Most of the reporting on the latest war between Israel and Hamas focuses on the number of casualties in Gaza. Hamas has been identified by the U.S. as a terrorist organization that is funded by Iran. The government of Hamas claims it is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and, therefore, every Israeli man, woman and child is a legitimate target. The culture of Hamas is a culture of death. It celebrates those who deliberately murder Israelis (including babies).

The culture of Israel is a celebration of life, learning, family and the pursuit of peace and happiness, just like the basic culture in the United States. Israel just wants to live in peace with its neighbors. The new government of Egypt also rejects Hamas and its terrorism. Israel has only retaliated against Hamas after thousands of deadly rockets have been fired by Hamas terrorists indiscriminately into Israel. Israel has tried to do everything to protect its citizens, building shelters everywhere and a missile defense system to deflect incoming missiles. It is about 95 percent effective, so few Israelis have been killed or wounded.

In contrast, the Hamas authorities not only don’t provide any safe shelters for their citizens, they deliberately place deadly rockets and munitions in private homes and apartments. They also purposely place them in schools, hospitals and mosques. The Israeli army tries to minimize casualties when it goes in to destroy these weapons, so it contacts the residents by phone to warn them to leave their apartments. Many of them leave, but then, unbelievably, the Hamas authorities tell the people to go back to their homes and “stand up to the Israelis,” and if they get killed, the authorities yell and curse and blame the Israelis. They use the deaths as propaganda to incur the world’s sympathy. They use people as human shields and they have no respect for human life.

This is the reality; this is what Israel faces. I just wish everyone could visit Israel and see how millions of Jews, Christians and Muslims live together peacefully. It is the most multicultural society, along with the U.S., in the world. The difference between Hamas and Israel is highlighted by the official response to murder. The response by Hamas to the recent murder of the three Israeli teenagers was cheering and celebrating the murderers. The response to the revenge killing of an Arab teenager by some Israelis was for the Israeli government to condemn the killing and arrest the perpetrators. I pray that more and more people learn the truth about Israel and Hamas and make sure our government leaders are aware and act to condemn and fight terrorism and hatred and promote real peace.

Ellen Bander

elementary librarian

Baton Rouge