A clear-eyed examination of the facts shows unequivocally that Hamas is responsible for the needless bloodshed in Gaza.
It is Hamas' militant leaders who dug tunnels and fired rockets into Israel. It is Hamas that devised the cynical strategy of using Gaza's civilian population, including children, as human shields against Israel's counterattacks. And it is Hamas using peace negotiations to seek rewards for its murderous behavior.
The fact that Israel is receiving silent backing from Arab nations should awaken those who finger Israel for the death toll in Gaza, which stands at more than 1,900 Palestinians and 67 Israelis. We believe those who blame Israel are damaging their credibility.
We concur with the Israeli negotiating strategy spelled out by Eyal Naor, deputy consul general of Israel to the Pacific Northwest region, in a meeting with The Bee Editorial Board on Monday. He described a "carrot-and-stick" approach in which Hamas is only rewarded for dropping its weapons and governing in the best interests of Gaza residents.
In a broader context, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week that there are prospects to create "a sustainable peace" and a role for the Palestinian Authority in Gaza when the conflict ends.
As explained by Naor, Israel wishes for Gaza to become "the next Singapore." Meaning that its Hamas leaders stop diverting aid from foreign countries to build tunnels and buy rockets and, instead, build schools and hospitals, and develop industries and agriculture.
"I am a realist," Naor said, "but I also see the potential for a bright future. It will take a lot of pressure from the Arab countries, and we will not allow ourselves to be in a situation where we negotiate while rockets are in the air."
Naor, too, put down the notion by some that President Obama has not fully supported Israel: "This country and this administration have been our biggest ally. Just the Iron Dome (air defense system) is a game changer."
While in Israel earlier this summer, Naor and his young daughters were driving through a Tel Aviv park when a siren went off — indicating an incoming rocket.
"In the city, you feel safer; you can just jump into a building," he said. "But this time, I had to stop the car, find a tree and get on the ground with my girls. I told them we were going to hear some fireworks and let's count the booms."
This is the reality of life in the complicated and deadly Middle East. Let's not let sympathy for the loss of Palestinian lives cloud our judgment about who is responsible for the deaths in Gaza.