Gaza Under Fire

There is no shalom this shabbat. Not for Israelis, not for Gaza Palestinians, not for anybody who seeks peace.

The pain that has been inflicted on the Palestinians is severe and painful to read, hear and see. What’s worse is that Hamas isn’t affected as meaningfully as one would think while once again Israel’s image has taken a severe beating.

Israel needs to be certain that it is extremely careful in this military incursion because the civilian casualties are mounting and when a school is hit or an aid relief driver is killed after the IDF gives the truck clear passage (Update: IDF now states it was not responsible for the shooting), there are no easy answers as to why these things happened nor should there be. Any death is hard to justify and Israel cannot afford to make the smallest moral mistake because while this is war, its very conscience as a nation is on the line. Israel and the IDF must remain ethical and true to a strong moral code that has guided its armed forces in the past.

With that said, let’s remember that the IDF is back in Gaza because of the violence thrust upon Israel by Hamas in Gaza. This incursion into Gaza is the fault of Hamas, not Israel. The borders and crossings have been closed over the past years as they are again because of Hamas violence and rockets. Civilian areas in Gaza are under bombardment because that’s where Hamas bases its fighters.

Israel was patient for years after it left Gaza and yet the Palestinians wanted to keep it engaged, especially Hamas. Keeping Israel engaged meant a daily routine of Russian Roulette for the inhabitants of Israel in the environs of Gaza and now further north and east.

Nobody should mistake what has gone on here as accidental. Hamas has an intelligent, well educated leadership and is handled by the capable Syrian and Iranian governments to some degree. They wanted Israel engaged because they couldn’t lose. If they terrorize or kill Israelis, then they pass out the candy, and if they get attacked they look like victims to the nasty Israelis and probably get to live another day so they can engage Israel again.

Israel wanted to disengage from Gaza but Hamas refused to let Gaza disengage from Israel. Disengagement means a de facto separation from the West Bank/Judea and Samaria and that was not on the menu for Hamas. That’s why tonight and tomorrow and probably well into next week and the one following there will be more fighting. That is also why, among other reasons, Israel must succeed in striking an effective blow at Hamas and cannot leave Gaza as it left Lebabon in 2006.

In the meantime, there is no peace. Many young Israeli men, fathers and husbands are once again risking themselves to protect Israel. Let’s hope they all come home safe and sound and that the civilians in the line of fire – on both sides – also remain safe and unharmed.

(photo source)

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  • The people of Gaza should feel lucky that Israel does hold itself to be a moral country. If it did not, there would no longer be any people of Gaza, as the whole area would just have been carpet bombed, as is the Russian fashion, and the “problem” of Hamas terrorism from Gaza would be solved. Luckily for them, Israel does hold itself to much higher morals and values.

  • The soldiers will be fine– let’s hope the leaders know what they’re doing, and won’t settle for the fig leaf of a purportedly new-and-improved ‘truce.’ So far so good, but we’ll see how the next days unfold– and what happens on and after the 20th.

  • Obama on January 6, fwiw:

    “The loss of civilian life in Gaza and in Israel is a source of deep concern to me, and after January 20th I’ll have plenty to say about the issue.”

    Dahlia, I’m not sure there’s much by way of moral triumphalism in the Chechen comparison (albeit it’s marginally better to compare Olmert/Barack with Putin than with Bomber Harris). Ultimately, the moral calculus of this campaign– in accordance with international law– will crucially depend on its results.

  • “The loss of civilian life in Gaza and in Israel is a source of deep concern to me, and after January 20th I’ll have plenty to say about the issue.”

    And that is the reason behind the timing of the incursion.

    Israel has less than a week to accomplish what may be impossible to accomplish in a week. After that, I believe there will be intensive pressure for a new “cease fire” – one where key elements will be dictated by Hamas – and a possible recognition of Hamas by the US so we can all “sit down and talk.”

  • Probably. I have a feeling Obama will seize on whatever’s above the fold on page one on 1/20 as a way to assert himself immediately in foreign affairs. (Absent Gaza, I suspect it would’ve been something like pressing hard for Mugabe’s ouster.)

    I’m sure Olmert et al. are under no illusions about making the most of the next week and a half. Today’s talk of escalation may be evidence of that.

  • Middle, according to most of the media releases today, Hamas is starting to crack. I think Israel’s offensive into Gaza is starting to really affect their morale as entire battalions of Hamas fighters are being wiped out. I hope this is in fact the case because this next offensive Israel is preparing the Gazans for will definitely inflict its share of pain on both Hamas and unfortunately the civilian population of Gaza, which will no doubt enrage the world even more.

  • Peace is an illusion, because as soon as it seems that one agreement is signed, there is an offshoot that begins the fighting all over again.

    So much misery and devastation to everyone, so little time is presented to put a permanent fix on it. I don’t see it happening in my life time, unfortunately.

    The humanitarian aspect (both sides) is sickening, and there doesn’t seem to be a resolution to the ongoing situation.