JERUSALEM, Israel – As Israel enters the second week of its war with Hamas and other Islamic terror groups inside Gaza, CBN News spoke one-on-one with former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer.
Dermer addressed several issues, from Israel’s right to defend itself to the importance of Evangelical Christian support for Israel.
In just a matter of days, Israel has faced close to 3,000 missiles and mortars from terrorists in Gaza. Dermer wonders how Americans would respond.
“I would ask Americans who are watching this unfold in Israel, think about this. Our army is fighting this war surgically going after the terrorists, not thousands of miles away from our shores. It’s right [in] our backyard when our own population is in bomb shelters. Imagine 150, 200 million Americans in bomb shelters. What do you think they would want their army to do?” Dermer said.
“That’s why I think the IDF is using enormous restraint and it’s important that the leaders of the world fully support Israel and our right to defend itself,” he added.
Many of Hamas’s rockets have hit towns in south and central Israel including its second-largest city, Tel Aviv. Dermer blames Hamas for a double war crime.
“They target our civilians by firing indiscriminately into our population center hoping to kill as many Israelis as possible,” he explained. “But the other thing they do is they embed their terrorist infrastructure in civilian areas. So, they place their weapons next to schools, next to mosques, next to hospitals…because they want to use these people as human shields. Well, these are legitimate military targets. And even though they are military targets, we will take the steps necessary to keep civilians out of harm’s way.”
Israel has taken out large towers inside Gaza City and large parts of Hamas’s war machine, but with relatively few casualties in light of Israel’s massive bombing campaign.
Dermer said Israel tries to protect civilians in Gaza by warning them before executing an airstrike.
“We warn them. We actually call people. We then fire a weapon that knocks on the top of the building telling people get out of the building. We give people time to leave. Then we take out the building,” he explained. “We have no desire to harm innocents on their side. But we are facing in Hamas a terror organization wedded to Israel’s destruction.”
He says the media plays a crucial role in the current conflict.
“Part of Hamas’s strategy is to turn the media into enablers for what they are doing. How does it work? They will fire rockets at us. Then, when we respond to that rocket fire in those civilian areas and unfortunately make a mistake or there’s collateral damage, civilians die. Then Hamas wants the entire world to blame Israel,” Dermer said.
“The media should report on everything but they should lay the blame squarely on whom it belongs – on Hamas – and if they understand Hamas, the media will not enable them.”
Dermer says Hamas’s strategy is to confuse the situation.
“I think a lot of people are confused [about] the situation and that’s what the terrorists want. They want to throw a cloud around it so you can’t tell the difference…so they want as much moral muddle as possible. They don’t want you to make a clear distinction between right and wrong,” he said.
Dermer believes only one side is at fault for the conflict – Hamas.
“Both sides are not at fault,” he said. “On one side you have democracy that’s called Israel – that values human life, the lives of its own citizens and also the lives of our enemy’s civilians…those who they are using as human shields. On the one side, you have a terror organization that glorifies death, that is trying to kill as many Israelis as possible, and they don’t care about their own people. They will actually use them in their propaganda wars and I don’t think any moral equivalency should be made between the two.”
During the current conflict, Dermer says US evangelical support is vital.
“The backbone of Israel’s support in the world is the United States Of America and the backbone of that backbone are Evangelicals, devout Christians who live in the United States…we are deeply appreciative of it and,” he said.
“I hope that Christians will make their voices heard now. I hope they will call their representatives, tell them how important it is to stand with Israel,” Dermer explained. “Those people who are the opponents of Israel, they’re in the streets. They’re waving their flags. They’re demonizing Israel and it’s important that the friends of Israel go out there and make clear they stand with Israel.”
Dermer says what lies ahead is a determined Israeli campaign to degrade Hamas’s ability to wage war so this conflict does not repeat itself anytime soon.
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