Why Is This Gaza War Different From All Other Gaza Wars? By Adam Garfinkle. The American Interest, July 24, 2014.
The Gaza War: When Strategies Collide. By Walter Russell Mead. The American Interest, July 25, 2014.
Saturday, July 26, 2014
In This Gaza War, the Truth Is Buried. By Jeffrey Goldberg. Bloomberg, July 25, 2014.
Here is one of the more astonishing facts of an already fairly astonishing war: The tunnels that Hamas has dug under Gaza’s border with Israel – tunnels designed not for commerce, but for kidnapping – reportedly contain tranquilizers and handcuffs, seemingly meant to be used by Hamas terrorists to gain physical control over Israelis they’ve seized.
I sometimes find it tiring to listen to Israeli spokesmen ask the same question over and over again: What would you want your leaders to do if your country’s enemies were firing rockets at your home?
The answer these spokesmen seek doesn’t come entirely easily these days. This is in part because much of the world suffers from a kind of Hamas-specific amnesia, in which the group’s past deeds (hundreds of murdered Israelis) and extreme goals are forgotten as soon as they are learned. But it’s also in part because the success of the Iron Dome anti-rocket system complicates the whole subject a bit.
The Iron Dome batteries could have provided Israeli policy makers with at least one answer that was short of immediate aerial retaliation, or eventual ground invasion. Israel might have been smarter, at the outset of the war, to absorb some of these initial attacks (assuming, of course, that it had continued good luck in interception). This would have ultimately made its cause slightly easier to explain to the world.
A delayed, or minimalist, response to the rocket attacks would have also denied Hamas an obvious battlefield victory: Hamas’s morally perverted but tactically clever goal is to maximize Palestinian civilian casualties. Its rockets are bait. And Israel has become expert at taking the bait.
But there is no Iron Dome for tunnels. The tunnels give me real pause. It’s hard enough to imagine a situation in which your neighbors are quite intentionally trying to blow up your house and kill your children with rockets. But Hamas’s well-developed kidnapping strategy represents a whole other category of depravity. The handcuffs and tranquilizers are mere baroque, Pulp Fictionish details. The core depravity of Hamas is its longstanding policy of treating every Jew as a target for elimination.
So I would ask this question: What would you want your government to do if your enemy was digging tunnels under your village, in order to pop out at night to kill or kidnap you? Could you imagine taking the risk that members of your family might be seized, dragged underground, handcuffed and tranquilized, and then held in the dark, perhaps for years, perhaps never to come home? Hamas terrorists have recently emerged from these tunnels inside Israel multiple times. This is not a theoretical threat.
An honest person would answer this question the following way: I would prefer that my government do whatever it must do to make sure that terrorists are not constructing tunnels under my house in order to kidnap me or members of my family.
Israel is a disputatious, fragmented, politically discordant place. But the country has been remarkably unified these past two weeks, in large part because Israelis – even those who find their government’s West Bank settlement project destructive and self-defeating, and who find their prime minister reactionary and unfeeling – understand the tactical and strategic goals of Hamas. The tactical goals are to terrorize Israelis and bring about the international delegitimization of Israel. The strategic goal – the theological goal, in fact – is to bring about the end of their country.
The center-left columnist Ari Shavit seemed to speak for most Israelis when he wrote:
What are we fighting for? Our home. The Jewish people was a people without a home, who managed the impossible, and created a home for itself. The State of Israel is a miracle. We must not give up this miracle. We must not endanger it, and we must not take its existence for granted. When dark forces try to annihilate it, we must defend it. When hypocritical, self-righteous forces try to weaken it, we must make it stronger. We are surrounded by a new threat of Muslim Arab chaos. Enemies seeking our blood amass at our walls.
They amass under their feet, as well. This is why Israelis appear adamant that any cease-fire agreement reached between the parties must eradicate the threat of these kidnapping tunnels, at a minimum. Anything short of this will fail to bring any stability to the region. Hamas, which is incapable of envisioning peace and reconciliation in the manner of advocates for a two-state solution, and which has already rejected multiple calls for cease-fires, is demanding that Israel and Egypt (which has Gaza’s southern border blockaded as well) reopen both Gaza’s borders and its ports.
This would be insanity. For years, Hamas leaders demanded that Israel allow them to import concrete in order to build homes for Gaza’s poor. We now know where so much of this concrete went – into the tunnels that run under Israel’s border, and into bunkers and bomb shelters for Gaza’s ruling elite. (The civilians of Gaza, the ones exposed to Israel’s bombardments, do not benefit from these exclusive bomb shelters).
The regime in Qatar, Hamas’s main friend in the region, is sympathetic to the group’s demand. No one else seems to be. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is right to seek a cease-fire, but the price should not be an agreement to allow an unreformed Hamas to engage in free, uninspected, commerce. Kerry appears to be pushing for a cease-fire that would allow Israel to continue the hunt for these tunnels. There is no way Israel would agree to a cease-fire without this right.
This is the third time that Hamas and Israel have fought since Israel withdrew its settlers and soldiers from Gaza in 2005 (a moment at which Gaza’s Palestinians found themselves with the opportunity, ultimately unseized, to build something other than tunnels and rocket launchers). There will surely be another conflict unless Hamas is disarmed, or unless President Mahmoud Abbas’s more moderate Palestinian Authority can somehow be brought back to power in Gaza. This is highly unlikely, both because the Palestinian Authority is weak and because Hamas will not willingly negotiate away the weapons that allow it to terrorize Israelis.
Israel, then, is faced with three enormous and difficult tasks. It must do a much better job of minimizing Palestinian casualties as it fights Hamas, because this is a moral necessity and a strategic imperative. It must also do something it hasn’t done well at all, which is to create an alternate reality on the West Bank, one that shows Palestinians a different and brighter sort of future than the one promised by Hamas. And – and this is its main task at the moment – it must ensure that its citizens aren’t kidnapped and murdered by a group that seeks not an equitable two-state solution but the annihilation of their country.
Israel abandoned. By Melanie Phillips. The Spectator, July 19, 2014.
The anti-Semitic West almost seems to want Israelis to suffer.
It’s the moral equivalence which is so devastating. When Egypt this week proposed its ceasefire in Gaza, a BBC presenter asked whether both sides would now conclude that there was no point carrying on with the war. From the start, restraint has been urged on both sides — as if more than 1,100 rocket attacks on Israel in three weeks had the same weight as trying to stop this onslaught once and for all.
Israel has been bombing Gaza solely to stop Hamas and its associates from trying to kill Israeli citizens. But for many in the West, the driving necessity is not to stop Hamas but to stop Israel.
Moral equivalence morphs instantly into moral bankruptcy. People have looked at the casualty count — around 200 Palestinians killed at the time of writing, while only a handful of Israelis have been injured or killed — and decided that this proves Israel is a monstrous aggressor.
No concern at all for the Israelis who have only a few seconds to rush to a shelter when the sirens start to wail, car drivers flinging themselves to the ground at the side of the road. No concern for the elderly or dis-abled Israelis who can’t get to a shelter, the hospital patients left helpless while the rockets slam into the ground nearby.
Just imagine if the Scots, for example, had for years been firing at England volleys of rockets that were now putting 40-50 million people within range. Unimaginable? Of course it is. No country would tolerate it. But that’s the equivalent situation in which tiny Israel has found itself. Yet it is simultaneously having to fight another war: against a West determined to demonise it with accusations of deliberate atrocities, lack of restraint or an attempt to conquer more land.
To these people, whatever Israel does to defend itself is bad. Killing Gazans is bad, warning them to flee so they won’t be killed is bad, the Iron Dome missile defence system is bad because, while Palestinians are being killed, Israelis are not. Ah yes, that’s the real outrage, isn’t it? Not enough dead Jews. How dare they defend themselves so effectively!
And so the West does Hamas’s dirty work for it. Hamas cannot defeat Israel militarily. Its strategy is not just to kill Israelis and demoralise the population, but also to de-legitimise Israel so that the West, too, will work for its destruction. Hamas’s rockets have failed in the first two objectives — but the third is a runaway success.
In its hundreds of tunnels, Hamas has built an underground infrastructure of industrialised terror the length of Gaza. As a Fatah spokesman blurted out, it has situated its arsenal among civilians, underneath schools and hospitals and mosques, for the infernal purpose of using its population as human shields and human sacrifices.
It has urged Gazans to make themselves the target of Israeli air strikes. It has ordered them to ignore the Israeli warnings to evacuate, which are delivered by leaflet, phone, text and warning shots.
Doesn’t the Israel-atrocity brigade ever pause to wonder why Hamas has provided no air-raid shelters for its people, while Israel has constructed a national shelter system? Gazan civilians are dying in order to maximise their numbers killed in the war, so that Hamas can incite against Israel in both the Muslim world and the West.
And it openly games the PR system. Hamas social media guidelines instruct Gazans not to post pictures of missiles launched from “residential areas” and always to add the term “innocent citizen” to any casualty’s name. So the figures it issues for civilian as opposed to terrorist casualties, re-circulated by the UN, are worthless.
Israel is waging this war in accordance with international law, which states that when houses are used for military purposes they may become legitimate military targets. But as Ibrahim Kreisheh, the Palestinian delegate to the UN Human Rights Council, admitted in a remarkable TV interview, while Israel’s killing of civilians is considered in law merely a mistake, Hamas is committing war crimes by deliberately targeting Israeli civilians. Indeed, given its use of Gazan human shields, it is guilty of war crimes twice over.
All civilian casualties, however, are deeply to be regretted and to be avoided wherever possible. And so Gaza presents Israel with a hideous dilemma. Either it inescapably kills a lot of civilians as a by-product of destroying the infrastructure of mass murder, or it leaves that infrastructure at least partly in place to spare the civilians. Until now, it has chosen the latter.
It is also allowing food and fuel into Gaza; its offer of blood supplies was turned down by the Palestinian Authority. When a Hamas rocket downed a power line supplying electricity to 70,000 Gazans, workers from the Israel Electric Company braved Hamas rocket fire to restore power to Gaza — enabling it to fire more rockets at Israel.
Yet it is Israel which is said to be “out of control,” guilty of indiscriminate slaughter and even — as ludicrous as it is obscene — “genocide.”
Those who demonise Israel in this way should realise just what they are supporting. Palestinian society, both through Hamas and Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah (whose military wing has also been firing rockets from Gaza), brainwashes its children that glory lies in killing Jews. It routinely pumps out Judeophobic incitement straight from the Nazi playbook.
A few days ago, Yahya Rabah, a member of the Fatah Leadership Committee in Gaza, recycled the medieval blood libel when he wrote in Al-Hayat al-Jadida that the Jews offer sacrifices during Passover “made from the blood of our children.”
Every western supporter of the Palestinian war against Israel is also tacitly supporting such anti-Jewish derangement. This psychotic bigotry is the true driver of that war, as well as the Islamist war against the West. Yet astoundingly it is never, ever mentioned. The intractable problem of Gaza has been exacerbated by the meddling incomprehension of a western world that just doesn’t grasp how Islamist fanatics play by entirely different rules.
The West insists on moral equivalence between Israel and the Palestinians, as if the century-old conflict between the Arabs and the Jews were simply a squabble over the equitable division of land. It is not. It is a war to destroy the Jewish national homeland by people driven into frenzy by forces immune to reason.
Israeli parents are now steeling themselves for the nightmare of their sons in the Israel Defence Force being deployed in a Gazan land war to stop the rockets. Some of those boys will be killed. But it will be the Palestinian casualties, the Hamas war crime, which will be used once again to blame the Jews for their own destruction.