The International Red Cross asked for a cease-fire in the Gaza conflict so the dead and wounded could be tended to, bodies removed, injured taken to hospital.
Israel said yes to the cease-fire, and Hamas immediately violated it.
Israel had hit the Saja’iyah neighborhood of Gaza and hit it hard. Scores dead. Women and children amongst them. Survivors, justifiably crying out, “What did we do to deserve this?!” And the horrible answer is:
“Nothing. You did nothing to deserve it. Hamas used you as human shields. It fired a hundred and sixty rockets from your neighborhood at Israel’s heartland. It riddled your neighborhood with tunnels, some of them, by all reports, terrorist tunnels, leading under Israel’s border, built to murder and kidnap Israeli civilians; people just like you who only want to live in peace. You did nothing to deserve this. You’ve been betrayed and used by your own leaders in the most cynical way imaginable. And you didn’t even ask for these leaders. They seized power in a bloody coup by lining up your fellow Palestinians against walls and machine gunning them to death, by blindfolding and binding and pushing them off three story buildings..= If you dare to dissent they begin the interrogation by shooting your knee caps off. You didn’t deserve this. And neither did we.”
This is a war. It is not a war of Israel’s choosing. In the days leading up to the aerial campaign which Israel initiated in response to constant and escalating rocket attacks from Gaza on its civilian centers of population, Israel has said repeatedly that it did not want an escalation let alone a war, and that “calm would be answered with calm.” In other words, “don’t shoot at us and we won’t shoot at you.” That seems like a pretty straightforward enough request, and an easy one to implement if one’s interest is in saving lives instead of taking them.
Hamas’s answer was more rockets.
And still Israel’s answer was “calm will be met with calm”.
But there wasn’t any calm. Instead there were more rockets, and more rockets still.
And so Israel answered with aerial attacks…on deserted training camps!
Let me say that one again. The government of Israel responded to Hamas rocket attacks, that had millions of Israelis racing for bomb shelters, with aerial strikes on empty tents!
That was not because of faulty intelligence or near sighted pilots. It was to demonstrate to Hamas what Israel could do unless Hamas ceased its rocket attacks.
Hamas’s response? More rocket attacks, in greater numbers and over wider areas, until it was no longer just the southern border towns under attack but Israel’s equivalent of New York City and L.A. rolled into one. The rockets began falling in the greater Tel Aviv area.
Unlike past campaigns, in the face of similar provocations in 2009 and 2012, Israel did not immediately respond with a massive aerial attack on Gaza. There was no shock and awe. Instead there was a very, very slowly ratcheted up, less than proportional, response, in the hopes that by offering Hamas a way out of the escalating situation, it would take it.
Israel responded now with aerial strikes that were far less than all out war.
Egypt proposed a cease-fire.
The Arab League endorsed it.
Israel accepted it
Hamas gave their answer in the form of a new massive rocket assault and by sending in thirteen terrorists via an underground tunnel that went beneath the border with Israel and came up within a few hundred meters of an Israeli civilian farming community.
This was to be their shock and awe; to kill, maim and kidnap dozens of Israeli civilians.
Finally with no other recourse Israel launched a ground campaign.
Now we are at war.
And Hamas, like the boy who murders his parents and then throws himself on the mercy of the court on the grounds that he is an orphan, is crying foul.
Hamas had long since turned the Saja’iyah neighborhood into a fortified center of terrorist attacks, armament workshops, and now we know, terrorist tunnels.
Prior to its attack, for days running, and referenced fully in earlier articles I have written, the IDF warned the residents of this neighborhood of its intent to attack and urged them, for the safety of themselves and their families, to evacuate. It dropped leaflets to that effect. It followed up the leaflets with SMS and text messages, by actually calling the residents’ cell phones and through Arabic media, up until the very last moment urging people to flee for their lives
And Hamas’s response to those warnings? In the street and from the mosques, through every means of mass communication at their disposal, they told their people not to evacuate, to stay put.
Hamas has committed one of the vilest of all war crimes against its own people. It has used them as unwilling human shields.
So here was Israel’s choice. Attack a neighborhood used for attacking its own civilians, or permit its own civilians to be attacked.
An army, any army’s, first responsibility is to protect its own people. Israel has fulfilled, albeit reluctantly, that first commandment.
Hamas has done the opposite. They have sacrificed their own people on the alter of their own lust for political power.
An Egyptian newspaper today, not an Israeli one, accused Hamas leaders of being liars, who live pampered lives, staying in five star hotels and driving expensive luxury cars while they sacrifice their own peoples’ lives
And what did the Hamas spokesman say today? “ We will fight to the last drop of the blood of Gaza.”
Of course he meant to say “To the last drop of the blood of others.”