Waking up this morning to two news alerts, both of which should trouble and concern anyone with any ounce of human decency: the continued barrage of rockets that have millions of Israelis hiding in shelters, and over 60 Palestinians dead in Gaza as Israel responds against terrorist operations.

For those of us who love and cherish life, we must grieve the loss of every innocent life. We must reiterate that while surely Israel could choose to not respond to this blistering terror assault, no civilized nation would choose to tolerate the sweeping targeting of its civilian population (though Israel tried to do so for several days last week).

Most of the Palestinians who died yesterday are, like Israelis, victims in this; victims of the terrorist organization Hamas which took control of Gaza after Israel ended the occupation nine years ago. They are victims of an Islamist regime: A regime which holds them hostage to an agenda committed to the destruction of Israel; A regime that uses them – including children – as human shields as it places military assault assets in civilian areas; A regime that denies them the opportunity to build the future they could have had in 2005 as a vibrant Mediterranean free Palestinian region.

Most of these Palestinians no doubt want the same thing the vast majority of Israelis want: to live peaceful lives, to have self-determination over their own destinies, to raise their kids in safe neighborhoods and give them a better life than they have. The people of Gaza have, for nine years, been denied these things by Hamas. Now, once again, because Hamas would deny these basic dignities to Israelis, they are suffering too.

There are many victims of the tragic absence of peace this week and my heart and prayers are with all of them. There is one common perpetrator: those Palestinian forces who have, time and again over the past century, ill-served their people by choosing violence and rejection over reconciliation and nation building.

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