Tuesday, July 22, 2014

War and peace

The deaths of a further 20 IDF soldiers in Gaza in the past few days is a tragedy, but not unexpected.  As well as Hamas having years to construct their extensive tunnel system, that have been used very effectively to strike into Israel, they have also had time to prepare ambushes and bury explosives.  This is what happens in war, it is the price of survival.  There is nothing we can say to alleviate the suffering of their families, but I try to remember that when we had no army, Jews were being killed at a much higher rate, in the Holocaust thousands a day perished.  Much better that a few dozen should die with a gun in their hand fighting to save innocent Jewish civilians.  They are our martyrs and heroes, but they are also our defenders. 
This morning two teams of terrorists were caught and killed by IDF forces as they tried to infiltrate Israel from tunnels from Gaza that open inside Israeli territory.  It is to destroy these tunnels that the IDF had to go in on the ground.  But, it is also important that the IDF administer a devastating blow to Hamas.  There are two reasons for this, first if Hamas is broken it will not be able to recover for a long time and this will give Israel some peace.  If 25% of an organization is destroyed, including personnel and materiel, then it ceases to be able to function effectively.  This should be one of the targets of the IDF.  Second, the situation today is not the same as it was during the last conflict in Gaza in 2012.  At that time Pres Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was President of Egypt, and he allowed Hamas to replace their destroyed and used weapons, including long-range missiles, through the tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border.  Pres. al-Sisi is an enemy of the MB who displaced Pres. Morsi, and he is fighting Hamas in Sinai.  He has closed the tunnels and will not allow Hamas to be resupplied with weapons and missiles, so this is a great opportunity tfor Israel.  If the IDF can now destroy most of the weapons caches of Hamas, including their missile stockpile (already about 50% used and/or destroyed), then Hamas will be unable to replace them and Hamas will be much weakened in the future.
There are increased calls for a ceasefire, particularly using the civilian casualties in Gaza as an excuse (were there such calls in Iraq or Syria?).   Pres. Abbas has journeyed to Qatar, that is the only country, apart from Turkey, that is actively supporting Hamas in this conflict.  The only other people who actually are supporting Hamas are the western liberal intelligentsia and the Muslim rabble. Egypt has proposed a ceasefire, that Israel accepted and Hamas rejected, but Egypt is not supporting Hamas and the Arab League and most of the other Arab countries have kept a low profile.  They acknowledge that the loss of Palestinian civilian life is largely due to Hamas and its tactics. 
Can there be a ceasefire acceptable by both sides?  At present not!  To save face Hamas is insisting that Israel must stop the naval blockade of Gaza (that Israel cannot do because they would import weapons and missiles), Egypt should open the Rafah crossing, (that al-Sisi will not do for the same reason), and Israel should release arrested Hamas operatives and allow free transfer of people between Gaza and the West Bank (something that Israel will certainly not allow).  Israel's conditions for a ceasefire have not been spelled out, it accepted the Egyptian proposal which is without conditions.  But, its conditions must be the destruction of all offensive tunnels and the destruction of all missiles in Gaza.  Hamas will not agree to this and they continue to fire missiles over Israel all the time.  So the fighting will continue until the IDF has done sufficient damage to Hamas that it will be forced to sue for a ceasefire to avoid further damage and the loss of its control of Gaza.  When that may happen cannot be predicted, but it will take some time.  So the diplomatic vultures who are currently circling (Secty of State Kerry, French FM Favius, UN Secty Gen. Ban ki-Moon, Italian FM Mogherini) may as well go home for the time being.


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