Thursday, August 7, 2014
US NEWS & WORLD REPORT: Israel Has a Duty to Defend Its Citizens As long as Hamas remains a threat to Israel, the fighting will continue in Gaza. By Mortimer B. Zuckerman
“The fog of war” is a metaphor of choice for war’s blinding physical and moral confusions, its half-truths, lies, ambiguities, distortions and deceptions. They all characterize the perceptions of the war between Israel and Hamas. Israel is a democratic country that wishes to live in peace with its neighbors, but cannot escape a duty to defend its citizens. The other is a terrorist group whose whole reason for being is genocide. It is dedicated not just to the diminution of the state of Israel but to its extermination, not just to fight Israeli soldiers, but to the extinction of all Jews whom it refers to as “inherently evil” and “responsible for all the evils in the world.” Hamas lives by the charter of Allah issued in 1988, which declared, “There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by jihad. The initiatives, proposals, and international conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility.” And this is the organization that is now allied with the supposedly moderate Fatah, the Palestine Authority it brutally expelled from Gaza in a coup.
Let us remember that Israel withdrew all of its citizens, uprooted its settlements, and completely disengaged from Gaza in 2005. It wanted this new Palestinian state to succeed. To help it economically, the Israelis left behind 3,000 working greenhouses. They also disassembled four smaller settlements in the northern West Bank – a sign that they wanted to live peacefully, side by side with Gaza. And how did the Palestinians respond? They demolished the greenhouses, elected Hamas, and instead of building a state, says Charles Krauthammer in the National Review Online, spent most of the last decade turning Gaza into a massive military base brimming with weapons to make endless war on Israel.
Even more menacingly, Hamas built miles and miles of intricate, underground tunnels to hide weapons and extended these tunnels into Israeli territory so it could carry out surprise attacks against Israeli citizens. Since then, Hamas has indiscriminately launched over 2,900 missiles against Israel. The rocket program is one that Hamas could have stopped at any time and ended the current conflict.
But Hamas has a different measure of victory. It is in the court of public opinion. Hamas has a sophisticated media strategy. Former President Clinton captured it well. Hamas, he told an Indian television audience, has a strategy designed to force Israel to kill its own (Palestinian) citizens so the rest of the world will condemn Israel.
Hamas operates by creating grief and then exploiting it. It places missile batteries next to its playgrounds, private homes, and mosques – inviting retaliation. It uses United Nations Relief and Works Agency facilities as weapons depots. Israel uses its arms to protect its civilians. Hamas uses its civilians to protect its weapons. The shameful tactic is to callously use women and children as human shields while Hamas military leaders hide in their deep tunnels and their leader Khaled Meshal plots from his sanctuary in Qatar. Other senior Hamas officials deliberately shelter among civilians and in hospitals. At the Gaza City Shifa Hospital, Hamas sacrificed the Palestinian people for its ideological cause. The attack was specifically designed to produce images of dead and injured Palestinians for television.
Gaza is a nightmare alike for the two peoples held hostage by Hamas. The Israelis, exposed to murderous assault from rocket fire, can defend themselves from death and destruction only at the cost of death and destruction for the people of Gaza. This lethal symmetry is, of course, exactly as its terrorist masters planned for the war they started. They reckoned that sacrificing human shields will attract more money and weapons from their chief sponsor, Iran, and from the new young Emir of Qatar, a financial sponsor of the underground Terror City.
Israel has no choice but to destroy the Hamas terror tunnels and its thousands of rockets and launchers. The Israelis do it as carefully as humanly possible, using the latest technology. They warn. They plead with people to leave dangerous areas. They hazard the lives of their young soldiers – more than 50 have been killed by Hamas gunmen emerging from tunnels, booby traps in houses and mortar fire.