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Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Cost of Provocation

The Cost of Provocation
By Deborah Weiss
The American Thinker 1/2/09

Thursday marked the sixth day of Israel's Cast Lead Operation against Hamas. The IAF aimed to hit twenty Hamas targets the night prior, after Israeli civilian areas were attacked on Wednesday night with five rockets from Gaza. Three of the rockets landed as far at Batsheeba (30 miles from Gaza) and two landed in Netivott. Batsheeba's alarm system was malfunctioning, but no deaths resulted from either attack.

In the meantime, thousands in the US took to the streets to protest on both sides of the conflict. In some cities like Dearborn, Michigan, a hotbed of Islamic radicalism, the protests were staunchly pro-Palestinian. In other major cities like NY, Boston, and LA there were more pro-Israel rallies.

Since Saturday, Israel has hit hundreds of Hamas-affiliated sites from the air as well as navy vessels. She is targeting Hamas' military facilities, administrative buildings (where they plan terrorist operations), tunnels created for weapons-smuggling, and the homes of Hamas terrorists. The number of estimated deaths is 369 Palestinians, around 300 of whom were Hamas-affiliated, and 4 Israelis. Amongst those who died was Sheik Niza Rayyan, who was considered a possible successor of the Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin. Two of his four wives, and four of his twelve children were also killed. Prior to the attack, his family was warned to leave the building, but they refused. Still, most of the Hamas leaders remain alive, hiding in underground bunkers. Approximately 20,000 Hamas fighters also remain unscathed and likely possess anti-tank missiles and anti-aircraft guns.

On Wednesday, Israel declined to accept a 48 hour "truce" proposed by the Quartet. Israel vows to fight to the bitter end in order to achieve "a new security environment". Her reasons for declination are that the proposal includes no enforcement mechanism to ensure that Hamas will stop smuggling weapons into Gaza or cease its rocket attacks. Further, there is no indication that the truce would extend into permanency. It is also untrue that a truce is needed to provide necessities to Palestinians in a "humanitarian crisis". Israel has allowed hundreds of trucks into Gaza carrying food and medicine. She has sent ambulances to aid Palestinians and has even permitted Palestinians into Israeli hospitals where they are being treated for injuries.

Yet, in a televised speech on Wednesday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (the "moderate") referred to Israelis as "barbarians," "occupiers" and "criminals" who are committing a "massacre" against "those who want justice and peace." In the same breath, he honored all the Islamic martyrs who have died in this conflict and previously, proclaiming that "Gaza is the test for steadfastness and defiance". His initial rhetoric blaming Hamas for the Israeli attacks has dissipated, and he is now calling for all Palestinian factions to put their differences aside and unite. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh insists that Israel must stop her violence first, unconditionally, and lift all blockades and open Gaza crossings. In exchange, Hamas refuses to promise a cessation of its rocket launches. Instead, if its requirements are met, Hamas agrees "to talk about all issues." Haniyeh promised Palestinians that in the end the occupiers will achieve nothing.

Peace-lovers, indeed.

On Wednesday evening, the UN called an emergency meeting to vote on a resolution Libya drafted to officially condemn Israel. However, due to US protests that the resolution was "unbalanced", the meeting ended without a vote. The US remains Israel's prime supporter, at least verbally. The White House has stated that to end the violence, Hamas must stop shooting rockets into Israel. President Bush states that he backs Israel's right to self-defense. Secretary Condoleeza Rice has been on the phone non-stop with Arab and Israeli leaders, trying to come to a "durable and sustainable" ceasefire, even if it's not immediate.

Still, international pressure is once again mounting against the Jewish State. She is urged to stop the violence without promise of reciprocity, despite the fact that Hamas instigated the whole affair. The world seems to accept the Palestinians as they present themselves: as victims. News media in Europe and the United States focus on non-stop footage of Palestinian suffering without showing the Palestinian actions that prompted the Israeli reprisals. And, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon insists that the Israeli response is "disproportionate." The question is, disproportionate to what? Is the victim of unprovoked violence morally confined to a tit-for-tat missile launch? Is there nothing to be said for deterrence or self-defense, if not retribution? Applying this line of reasoning to a criminal case, one would have to wait until he was shot dead before he could justify killing an armed intruder who shot him first. Should Israel aim to hit only Palestinian civilians in order to even the score?

In any event, the focus is on the wrong party. Had Palestinians adhered to the six-month Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire, there would have been no cause for Israeli aggression, proportionate or otherwise. After years of having missiles and Katyusha rockets launched over the Gaza territory into Israeli civilian populations, Israel has finally had enough. Her patience has run its course. Her appeasement, tolerance and hope for peace has gotten her nowhere. The shock and awe campaign she launched this past weekend is an attempt to end the continuation of death and havoc wreaked on Israeli civilians. The campaign targets only terrorists and Hamas infrastructure, trying as much as possible to avoid hitting civilians. Israel even warns Palestinians to evacuate before aiming at weapons shelters or Hamas facilities. It is a difficult situation considering the fact that Hamas has buried its police and training camps amongst populated civilian areas.

In the meantime, Hamas remains steadfast in its position on Israel: she doesn't have the right to exist.

Palestinian schools have deleted Israel off all maps and indoctrinate Palestinian youth with hatred of Jews. The courses omit entirely any mention of the holocaust which prompted the UN vote for making Israel a state. Instead, they inform the children that Israel and the Jews are occupiers and evildoers. They even air anti-Israel cartoons, feeding their toddlers diets of loathing and animosity.

Repeatedly over the years, Palestinians have intentionally and randomly killed Israeli civilians while the world turned a blind eye. Even as this article was being written, Hamas TV was portraying the death of innocent Jews as cause for celebration. While continuing to launch multitudes of rockets and mortar shells across the Gaza border, Hamas is vowing victory to its people. In reality, it is only guaranteeing that Palestinians will suffer more severe consequences.

If the Palestinians were smart, they would rally against their leadership to stop the provocations. The much complained of fence could be torn down and the gates opened so Palestinians could work, travel, and live in freedom, peace and prosperity. But this would require unlikely self-reflection of their "religious" ideology and their political policies. It would necessitate that they focus their energy on helping themselves rather than using their resources toward the destruction and devastation of others.

But presumably, Palestinians prefer to remain victims so that they can continue to scapegoat Israel and the Jews for their plight.



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