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War in Gaza, and a war of words from Times readers

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November 19, 2012|By Sara Lessley
  • Columns of smoke rise following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City last week.
Columns of smoke rise following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City last week. (Adel Hana / Associated Press )

As the missiles and rockets fly in the Middle East, so does the war of words in Los Angeles. 

As Times reporter Edmund Sanders wrote Sunday:

“The conflicting views of ordinary Palestinians summed up the calculation now facing Hamas, the Islamist group that has been struggling for five years to find a balance between its roots as a resistance army and its responsibility for governing the Gaza Strip. The fourth day of violence Saturday left civilians on both sides digging out of the rubble. By late evening, there were signs of progress toward a possible cease-fire agreement being brokered in Cairo.”

PHOTOS: Israel-Gaza violence

By Monday, the news had become:

“An Israeli airstrike Sunday killed at least nine members of the same family -- mostly women and children -- in the deadliest single attack and worst civilian tragedy since the fighting in the Gaza Strip began last week.”

The opinions emailed to The Times' letters to the editor inbox reflected anger and frustration over the ongoing conflict:

Dick Bernstein in Los Angeles observed, perhaps wearily:

“Here we go again with rockets and artillery fire back and forth between Israel and Gaza. Each side has its reasons to fight, but for Israel, its the right of survival of a Jewish state.

“Hamas thinks it has the backing of the new Islamic states.

“Israel sees the specter of rockets in Gaza, with Hezbollah to the north and possible nuclear bombs from Iran in the east. So the every-four-year cycle of tit-for-tat violence continues.

“It looks like the Arab Spring turned into the Arab Winter, and Israel is paying the price.

“Unfortunately, whatever Israel does or doesn't do looks bad in the media. But I'd rather be pilloried in the media than join the ranks of the deceased. Hopefully the Arab world will eventually find moderate leaders that can live with a Jewish state; otherwise, this vicious cycle will repeat itself.”

Counters John Shiban in Westlake Village:

“President Obama and others in his administration and in Congress have said yet again that ‘Israel has the right to defend itself.’  Well, so do the people of Gaza.”

Others, including Jake Jacobs of Irvine and Dwain Deets of Encinitas, take issue with the coverage:

Says Jacobs:

“The Times’ editorial says more than 750 rockets have been fired [from Gaza into Israel] this year, ‘resulting in relatively few casualties.’ Are we to infer that it’s OK for Hamas to fire rockets into its sovereign neighboring country and terrorize its citizens, as long as they kill only a few people?

Writes Deets:

“The editorial’s obligatory paragraph saying Israel has a right to defend its citizens against rocket attacks should come with a similar paragraph saying Palestinians have a right to live free from apartheid controls, and that Israeli settlements should be withdrawn from Palestinian territory.”

Some think the focus is on one side:

Warren McClain in Pasadena emails:

“In all of the uproar about a possible war between Israel and the Palestinians, the news misses the cause of it all: the ways Israel keeps taking Arab homes away with no negotiation or payment. The latest are homes in Jerusalem. Several thousand Palestinian homes have been taken away in the past decade.

“Is it any surprise that the losers are hopeless enough to send rockets? No negotiations are ever really offered.”

But Zach Samuels in Los Angeles comments:

“When Israel responds in self-defense attacking military targets, which unfortunately Hamas keeps in heavily civilian populated areas, there is much to-do about Palestinian civilian casualties.  Yet no one says a word when Hamas launches missiles indiscriminately toward Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, without even attempting to hit military targets. 

Where is the cry for war crimes being committed by Hamas?  It seems to run in only one direction.”

And for some, it comes down to dollars, and sense:

In Downey, George Saade asks:

“Two questions: How does another Gaza war help America (or Israel for that matter)? And, why does the American taxpayer borrow billions to help subsidize this stalemate?”

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