Herbert London: The Israeli War With Gaza

Nov 28, 2012

It is astonishing to see Ban-ki-Moon and Hillary Clinton, among others clamoring for a truce between Israel and Hams-led terrorists.  One wonders where these diplomats were when more than a thousand missiles rained over Israel without retaliation.

Clearly the pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to halt the bloodshed is intense.  But the fact is, there are interests that keenly wish to pursue war.  For Iran, this season of Hamas terror is a useful distraction as it pursues its goal of nuclear weapons’ capability.  For Egypt, this war offers Prime Minister Morsi an opportunity to rally his Sunni brothers in Saudi Arabia   For Turkey, the rockets fulfill Erdogan’s dream uniting the Muslim faithful.  For Hamas, the fighting creates the imaginary belief Israel is vulnerable and can be defeated in time.

Hamas has used the launching of rockets to convey the impression it is a political force to be reckoned with.  Youthful adherents brutalize alleged spies on the streets of Gaza City creating a belief that disloyalty will not be countenanced.  And Hamas leaders demand that the blockade against the Gaza Strip be lifted before negotiations for a truce commence.

As I see it all the talk about a truce, before every rocket in is destroyed, is nonsensical.  A truce at this stage only means Hamas can retreat to fight or launch rockets another day.  It is useful for the Iranians to understand that the rockets it manufactures and sends to Gaza represents a diminishing asset, an investment without return.  It is also important, that Hamas realize the border it shares with Egypt is a target for military contraband.

Israel can certainly be threatened, but as this latest conflict shows, it cannot be defeated.  The Iron Dome is 90 percent effective in thwarting incoming missiles and the Israeli military has clear air superiority.  However, these missile attacks are designed to sap the spirit of the nation.  The sound of sirens in southern Israel awakens fear.  Yet the global press ignores conditions that would be intolerable in any other nation.  Israel is sui generis, a place where the blood of its citizens doesn’t matter to the outside world.

Even as Hamas strengthens its grip on Gaza, the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, talks of re-empowering Palestinian leader Abbas.  Here is naiveté in full bloom.  Hamas defeated Abbas’ Fatah to gain control in Gaza.  In fact, Abbas hasn’t any standing in this den of terrorists; he has lost control over the West Bank as well.  Extremism is in the air.  Hamas smells it and whatever the outcome this terrorist organization will claim victory.  It is a false victory of pride borne of what the terrorists desire, not what they are capable of achieving.

For Netanyahu, there is a way forward since the peace he seeks is achievable only through war, a total war that emasculates Hamas’ rocket force.  Every other stratagem is either unworkable or subject to a succeeding chapter of warfare.

U.S. spokesmen contend that a truce is needed to prevent a larger, regional war.  On several levels this contention is implausible.  Egypt may have sympathy for Hamas, but an invasion of Egyptian forces would lead to an ignominious defeat subjecting the Muslim Brotherhood to humiliation and possible electoral failure.  Iran will provide missiles surreptitiously, but direct aid to Hamas could trigger an Israeli attack.

As a consequence, tension may be rising, but cooler heads are likely to prevail when Muslim faithful clamor for an all out attack on Israel.  As things stand, Israel’s defense fortifications and the strength of its military forces stand as the bulwark for stability in the region.  What Israel cannot forget is that the essential strength of the nation lies in the resilience of its people.  They endure rocket attacks; they endure bloodshed.  What can never be surrendered is the will of the Jewish people.  Eretz Israel is the Jewish homeland; when Arabs learn this is a truth that cannot be overturned, peace will reign.

Herbert London is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, president emeritus of Hudson Institute and author of the book The Transformational Decade (University Press of America).

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