Frequently asked questions

What happened in Israel and Gaza in May, 2021?

  • Racist terrorist groups in Gaza, led by Hamas, launched a deadly assault aimed at overwhelming Israel's defenses and massacring Israeli civilians.
  • Hamas began by firing rockets at Jerusalem on May 10th, 2021. From May 10-21, they fired over 4,000 rockets at Israeli civilians.
  • Hamas and its allies are committing a double war crime: firing at Israeli civilian communities from within Palestinian civilian communities.
  • The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have responded with hundreds of strikes aimed at stopping terrorists in Gaza from murdering Israelis.
  • Hamas encouraged mob violence by Arab extremists in Israel and Jewish extremists retaliated with mob violence of their own. Jewish and Arab leaders across the Israeli political spectrum strongly condemned this, and people from both communities have held rallies calling for peace.

How did this violence affecting people on the ground?

  • It was a horrific tragedy for Israeli and Palestinian civilians.
  • Several Israelis were murdered and hundreds injured by terrorist attacks from Gaza. This includes both Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel.
  • Millions of Israelis live under the threat of being murdered. The only reason more haven't died is that Israel built bomb shelters in most Israeli homes and its Iron Dome defense system has shot down countless incoming rockets.
  • Over one hundred people have been killed in Gaza. Initial reports indicate most were members of Hamas and other terrorist groups.
  • Palestinian civilians have suffered immensely, with an unknown number killed thusfar. In some cases, this was because terrorist rockets aimed at Israel misfired and fell in Gaza. In others, it was because Israel struck terrorists and military infrastructure located in civilian areas. Hamas terrorists are endangering civilians in Gaza to protect themselves.

What drives Hamas?

  • Hamas is an internationally recognized terrorist group, driven by a toxic mix of genocidal racism and religious extremism. They do not exist to "resist the occupation" or help Palestinians achieve justice and peace. Their goal is to murder Jews, destroy Israel, and replace it with a brutally oppressive regime of religious supremacy. Read the Hamas Charter here.
  • Hamas rules Gaza and is heavily funded by Iran's regime, which often makes genocidal threats to destroy Israel. Hamas uses its funding to oppress Palestinians in Gaza and fuel its endless war against Israel, instead of making peace and building a better future for its people.
  • Hamas is competing for political power with Fatah - a rival faction which rules over Palestinian communities in the West Bank. The group wants to expand its influence over the West Bank and Arab communities in Israel.

What drives Israel?

  • In its conflict with Hamas, Israel is driven by its responsibility to protect Israelis of all backgrounds from terrorism. This is the right and duty of every country, and Israel is no exception.
  • The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) code of ethics requires its soldiers to do everything they can to protect innocent life. This means following the laws of war and taking every precaution to target only terrorists, even as those terrorists use innocent Palestinians in Gaza as human shields.
  • Bigger picture, Israel has held four elections since April, 2019 and has not had a stable government since then. As such, it does not currently have a unified approach to resolving the conflict overall. Past Israeli governments repeatedly offered Palestinian leaders an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza in return for peace. All of these offers have been rejected.

Why are there civilian casualties in Gaza, including children?

  • The death of Palestinian civilians in Gaza is a tragedy which should never happen. There is no question that Palestinians have suffered the most deaths and injuries from violence between Hamas and Israel.
  • The main reason Palestinians in Gaza are killed is because Hamas and its allies have militarized their neighborhoods. Terrorists fire rockets at Israeli civilians from crowded civilian areas in Gaza and embed military infrastructure in homes, schools, and hospitals.
  • Numerous legal and military experts have documented how the IDF does not intentionally target civilians as a matter of policy, and goes beyond what the law requires by warning civilians before striking military targets. Nevertheless, it has proven impossible to stop terrorists in Gaza from attacking innocent Israelis without harming innocent Palestinians in the process. This is because Hamas and its allies intentionally put civilians directly in harm’s way
  • In some cases, terrorist rockets from Gaza misfired and killed Palestinian civilians. For example, according Defense for Children – Palestine: “a homemade rocket fired by a Palestinian armed group fell short and killed eight Palestinians, including two children”.
  • The only way to prevent such tragedies is for Hamas and other terrorist groups to permanently stop their attacks against Israeli civilians.

Doesn’t Israel control Gaza?

  • No. In 2005 Israel removed every Israeli soldier and civilian from Gaza, hoping to advance the cause of peace.
  • Hamas and other terrorist group responded by dramatically increasing their attacks against Israeli civilians. Since 2005, over 20,000 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza.
  • Hamas won Palestinian legislative elections in 2006 and took over Gaza in 2007 by defeating Fatah in a violent coup. It has ruled the territory with an iron fist ever since.
  • The U.S., the EU, and others demanded that Hamas commit to non-violence, recognize Israel, and accept all previous agreements between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
  • Hamas refused, choosing to continue its endless war against Israel. Israel responded with a blockade aimed at stopping weapons from entering Gaza, while still helping to deliver civilian goods, humanitarian aid, water, electricity, and more to Palestinian civilians. Egypt has imposed similar restrictions along its border with Gaza.

What sparked the latest escalation in violence?

  • Hamas used religious and political unrest in Jerusalem to justify its all out assault against Israeli civilians. Tensions and violence had been building between Palestinians and Israelis throughout the holy month of Ramadan, beginning in mid-April, 2021.
  • For over 100 years, Palestinian leaders have promoted mass violence and antisemitism by falsely claiming that Jews and/or Israelis were threatening Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. This is only the most recent example.
  • On April 30th, Palestinian Authority President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas postponed Palestinian elections. He blamed Israel but was more likely motivated by concern that Hamas would defeat his allies at the polls.
  • Many analysts believe Hamas incited riots in Jerusalem and launched massive rocket attacks against Israel in response to Abbas postponing the elections. Hamas may believe that branding themselves as “defenders of Jerusalem” will increase their political power and weaken Fatah.

What exactly happened in Jerusalem?

  • On April 13th, 2021, as the holy month of Ramadan began, some Palestinian youth began posting TikTok videos of themselves assaulting Jews in Jerusalem. This led to retaliation by Jewish extremists, clashes, and police arresting people from both sides.
  • Palestinians also clashed with police in reaction to barriers being put up outside Damascus gate in Jerusalem. This is an area where Palestinians often spend time together after breaking the Ramadan fast. The barriers were ultimately removed on April 25th, but Hamas used this unrest to justify firing rockets at Israel. Israel responded with
    limited strikes against Hamas targets.
  • On April 30th, Mahmoud Abbas postponed Palestinian elections, angering Hamas.
  • In the beginning of May, clashes broke out in a Jerusalem neighborhood called Sheikh Jarrah. There has been a decades-long legal dispute between Jews and Palestinians over property there, which came to a head because Israel's High Court was set to rule on the issue on May 10th, 2021. Click here for “Sheikh Jarrah: 10 Essential Facts”.
  • On May 7th, Hamas leader Fathi Hammad urged Palestinians in Jerusalem to "cut off the heads of the Jews with knives." At the same time, Hamas started fires across southern Israel using incendiary balloons.
  • From May 8-10, riots broke out at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif (the holiest site in Judaism and third holiest site in Islam), with pro-Hamas slogans being chanted. Tensions skyrocketed as police tried to disperse the riots and rioters attacked them with stones and other weapons. 300 Palestinians and 21 Israelis were reportedly injured. Mob violence against Jews broke out elsewhere in the city as well.
  • On May 10th, Hamas demanded that Israel withdraw from the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif by 6pm. Immediately after the deadline, it began firing massive numbers of rockets at Israeli communities, including Jerusalem which it claims to "love" and want to "protect".
  • Israeli police have been criticized for various actions throughout this period. However, Israel also took numerous steps to reduce tensions and violence. This included delaying the court hearing on Sheikh Jarrah until June, arresting Jewish extremists, rerouting and then cancelling a march through the Old City celebrating Jerusalem Day, and limiting its initial response to Hamas rockets and arson attacks. None of this helped, because Hamas was determined to spark a violent conflict.
  • Historically, only Israel has been able to consistently uphold religious freedom for all in Jerusalem. On May 13, 2021, despite the ongoing conflict, over 100,000 Muslims gathered on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif for Eid Al-Fitr, a holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

What can people and governments around the world do to help?

  • Do research before sharing anything about this issue, to avoid spreading misleading content and fueling more conflict.
  • Unequivocally condemn terrorism against Israeli civilians and support Israel’s right to protect its citizens.
  • Humanize Israelis and Palestinians - avoid any negative statements about either community as a whole and call out hateful rhetoric when you hear it.
  • Pressure the governments of Iran, Qatar, and Turkey to stop funding and supporting Hamas and its terrorist allies in Gaza.
  • Urge the Palestinian Authority to stop incitement and financial rewards for violence, and return to peace negotiations with Israel.
  • Support organizations on the ground like Hand in Hand, which are working for peace and coexistence in this difficult time.

Isn't Israel to blame because it is more powerful than Hamas?

No. The "imbalance of power" narrative is misleading and harmful. Anyone who wants safety, freedom, and dignity for all people in the region should be thankful that Israel has more power than Hamas. The only reason Hamas hasn't succeeded in murdering hundreds, thousands, or even millions of Israelis is because Israel has the power to stop them. If Israel had less power, more innocent people would be dying right now. Hamas is a terrorist organization driven by genocidal racism. Its goal is not to "resist the occupation" but to kill Jews, destroy Israel, and replace it with a brutal regime of religious supremacy. The group rules Gaza with an iron fist. It uses its power to fire thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians and oppress Palestinians under its control. Hamas is also funded and supported by at least three powerful governments: Iran, Qatar, and Turkey. None of them have shown any interest in changing the status quo, and Iran's regime frequently threatens Israel with destruction. Hamas could choose to end this conflict once and for all by stopping all violence against Israeli civilians, accepting Israel's existence, and negotiating peace. If the group truly wanted a better future for Palestinians, that's what it would do with its power. Unfortunately, Israel can't make Hamas choose life over endless war, destruction, and death. If Israelis had the power to do that, the conflict would have been over a long time ago. There is no easy solution to this horrible situtation. However this much is clear: one-sided approaches that blame Israel, try to strip away its power, and shield Hamas from accountability will only fuel more suffering and conflict. Those who want safety, freedom, and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians should not use the "imbalance of power" to empower Hamas.

Will cutting US aid to Israel stop the violence?

No, that would only empower and embolden Hamas to continue its crimes against Israelis and Palestinians. While almost all Democratic and Republican leaders support Israel's right to defend itself, a few Members of Congress are now loudly promoting a bill to cut U.S. military aid to Israel. This came immediately after the racist terrorist group Hamas launched a massive assault against Israeli civilians, leading to another tragic conflict in the region. If Hamas terrorism is followed by decreased support for Israel, Hamas will see that terrorism works. It will likely commit many more atrocities, hoping Israel will lose even more support as a result. Instead of promoting these destructive ideas from thousands of miles away, responsible leaders should support bills like H.R. 261. This bill would sanction foreign supporters and funders of Hamas.