Israel's War of Restraint Continues
While Hamas hides behind children, Israel fights a difficult but necessary battle.
Secretary of State John Kerry has been dispatched to Egypt as the latest world diplomat to call on Hamas to accept an Egyptian cease-fire proposal in the Gaza conflict – a pact backed by both the United States and Israel, provided Hamas complies, which they won’t. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the Obama administration is “deeply concerned about the risk of further escalation, and the loss of more innocent life.” Meanwhile, Kerry called on Hamas to “step up and show a level of reasonableness, and … accept the offer of a cease-fire.” Does he know who he’s talking to?
In two weeks of fighting, Gaza officials claim the Palestinian death toll exceeds 500 as Israel retaliates for indiscriminate rocket attacks coming from Hamas strongholds. Conversely, 20 Israelis have been killed by Hamas strikes (including two Americans fighting in the Israeli army). The low number is mainly thanks to the success of Israel’s “Iron Dome” defensive infrastructure designed to repel the frequent Hamas rocket attacks.
While Israel sent in ground troops, the high Palestinian death toll is not from an overly aggressive Israeli offensive. Hamas doesn’t “give a whit about the Palestinians,” scolded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “All they want is more and more civilian deaths.” He also noted, “Here’s the difference between us: We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”
Indeed, a common practice of Hamas leadership is to place weapons, supply dumps and command-and-control sites amid civilians (hospitals, schools, markets, etc.) to maximize casualties from any Israeli attack – in effect holding their own people hostage. The Israeli government warns occupants of targeted areas in advance of their bombings, yet Hamas leaders ask their civilians not to seek safety. The end result is the high Palestinian death toll, and a victory for Hamas in the propaganda war as numbers are gobbled up by an anti-Semitic populace worldwide.
Unbelievably, the UN discovered some of those rockets in a Gaza school and promptly handed them to the government in Gaza, i.e., Hamas. The stupidity is stunning.
Speaking of stupidity, John Kerry was caught on a hot mic disparaging Israel’s efforts at limiting civilian casualties with pinpoint strikes. “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” Kerry sarcastically blustered. It isn’t the first time Kerry has criticized Israel. In April, he warned of an apartheid state if Israel didn’t make changes.
This Israeli offensive is intended to clean out a network of tunnels and other shelters used by Hamas to store and transport weapons and give cover to leadership. It’s also clearly self-defense. “If it’s left up to Hamas, thousands of Israelis would be dead,” said Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-NC). So a fed-up Israel is fighting back after months of fruitless negotiations and ever-increasing attacks.
Predictably, the prospect of a peaceful two-state solution – which Israel helped to boost a decade ago by clearing out its own unwilling settlers and providing 3,000 greenhouses to jumpstart an economy they hoped would be based on a thriving Gaza export industry – isn’t working out in favor of either party. “This is a world in which the U.N. ignores humanity’s worst war criminals,” writes columnist Charles Krauthammer, “while incessantly condemning Israel, a state warred upon for 66 years which nonetheless goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid harming the very innocents its enemies use as shields.” When the choices are vigilance or extinction, sometimes blows have to be exchanged.