As the situation between Israel and Hamas continues to dominate headlines, and the calls for Canada to have an "even-handed" approach and to condemn Israel's "disproportionate" policies are renewed, it might be appropriate to step back a bit and review a few indisputable facts.
First and foremost, Hamas makes its own decisions of where to place rocket launch sites, missile and armament factories, training facilities and bases for its 20,000 man army. It chooses to put them next to, in the midst of or close to civilian homes, schools and hospitals. It cannot be said that the citizens of Gaza (by now) are unaware of such placements. Therefore, they are either kept as hostages and sacrificial lambs by their elected government, or they willingly accept these military targets and are themselves prepared to die for such a privilege - leaving aside the fact that Israel warns the population in advance of its impending attacks.
Secondly, whatever may have been the pros or cons about Israel's occupation of Gaza, that situation came to an end in 2005 when every Israeli soldier and civilian left Gaza. There was nobody left to rule Gaza except Gazans. At that point the choice was very clear: create a peaceful State or continue to attack Israel, despite the withdrawl of Israel from Gaza.
Thirdly, Hamas was elected by Gazans in 2006, when there was a choice: elect a party devoted solely to fighting Israel, or elect a party that was prepared to deal with Israel. They chose the former and by 2007 Hamas controlled that Strip, lock, stock and barrel.
Fourthly, one must assume that the voters of Gaza (or at least the majority) were aware that Hamas's policies included not only a total rejection of Israel's right to exist, but also that Hamas intended to pursue that goal and continue with its militaristic attacks upon Israeli civilians, rather than contend itself with diplomatic initiatives to overturn the State of Israel. Thus the continuation of rocket attacks into Israel, due to the absolute control of Gaza by Gazans / Palestinians / Hamas, even during the "ceasefire", with what must be assumed to be the support of the majority of the population.
Fifthly, Hamas chose to import into Gaza, rockets, launchers, weapons and other military material needed for the express purpose of attacking Israel, rather than medical supplies, foodstuffs, generators and other civilan essentials. This also meant that scarce financial and donated resources were channeled for war purposes, rather than necessities of life. The endless call for "more humanitarian aid" by some NGOs and the usual cacophony of political parties and governments seem to ignore the fact that Hamas chooses how to use and distribute its fiscal and other resources - and it continually chooses to ignore its peoples' plight, with their apparent acquiessence, in order to continue its military campaign against Israel.
Sixth, Hamas continues to wage war despite the fact that it's territory is intact and within its control and despite the fact that Gaza's boundary with Israel is along the pre-1967 armistice lines. In other words, there is no disputed or occupied territory - except the very existence of Israel, which Hamas has vowed to bring down, and to do so militarily. According to opinion polls, most Gazans support this.
Those who mourn the loss of civilian lives in Gaza ought to keep the above in mind.