Gaza, Israel, Iran and the right of self-defense
These terrorist leaders know that the more images of dead Palestinians they send to the media, whether they are, or not, real or from Gaza, the more public opinion and many Western leaders will press Israel for a ceasefire. That’s why Hamas leaders don’t mind using their own people as human shields since more pain and blood will feed their propaganda machine.
2014-07-22 by José María Aznar
The first duty of any government is to ensure the safety of its citizens. Unfortunately, that’s something that all Israeli leaders—left, center, and right—have had to learn very quickly since the birth of Israel until today.
From my time in government I know that there is no more complex and painful decision than to send your men and women in uniform into harms way. Now that a limited ground offensive has been launched into Gaza in order to destroy the numerous tunnels built by Hamas terrorists to sneak onto Israeli soil to carry out attacks, it is important to remember how restrained Israel has been. Unfortunately every war is about destruction and death, and mistakes happen. Even though there is no other army like the IDF that takes so many precautions as to avoid unnecessary casualties. Also it is morally imperative to remember that Israel doesn’t target innocent civilians, but combatants in plain clothes, unlike Hamas that fires indiscriminately against population centers. For example, if the UK was receiving proportionally the same amounts of rockets from Hamas onto her soil, more than 40 million British citizens would be under their direct threat, as today it is the 80·/. of Israel’s population.
Some believe that the indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza launched by Hamas terrorists against Israel’s population are the response to the brutal and heinous murder of Palestinian youth Mohamed Abu Khdeir. However, the truth is that Hamas rocket fire started well before, from the time that Israeli security forces began searching for three Israeli teens, Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Fraenkel and Gilad Shaer, kidnapped and murdered by Hamas militants near Hebron. Rocket fire from Gaza began on June 15 and the remains of poor Mohamed were found on July 2.
Hamas has never needed an excuse to attack Israel. It is in its genes and proclaimed in its foundational charter. In fact, since 2007 when Hamas violently seized control of Gaza, Israel has been forced to respond to Hamas attacks on three occasions: in late 2008, when Ehud Olmert authorized Operation Cast Lead; in November 2012, with the Pillar of Defense air campaign; and now again, when current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Operation Protective Edge.
Jerusalem is prompted to show restraint and moderation, but to my knowledge, no other nation has to cope with a neighboring terrorist land, nor must it lead everyday life under threat and, by the way, just with regard to the rockets flying overhead: Over seven thousand have been fired in recent years and one every minute and a half on the night of Tuesday, July 7.
In fact, Israel’s problem lies largely in the international community. At minimum, Hamas leaders know from their own experience that Israel fights with one hand tied behind its back: Israel cannot respond intensely because it would be accused of "disproportionality;" Israel cannot inflict neither much damage nor many enemy casualties because it would be accused of crimes against humanity; Israel cannot take too much time for its military response because nobody wants to see how horrible all wars are. Unfortunately, as General Sherman, who knew something about war, once said, “War is hell” – for everyone. We cannot, in any case, more than lament the suffering of innocent people.
Right now, the rate of rocket firing against Israel seems to respond to a deliberate Hamas strategy to prolong the conflict. These terrorist leaders know that the more images of dead Palestinians they send to the media, whether they are, or not, real or from Gaza, the more public opinion and many Western leaders will press Israel for a ceasefire. That’s why Hamas leaders don’t mind using their own people as human shields since more pain and blood will feed their propaganda machine.
To allow Hamas to play this game again, as they have done many times before, would be wrong. If it’s not a mere mantra and we really believe that Israel has every right to defend itself, then let the leaders in Jerusalem do this time what they have to do. Moreover, let’s all learn from Hamas and its attitude. It’s clear that Israel is much stronger militarily; however, it has reduced deterrent capabilities. As I have indicated on other occasions, Israel has lately had to fight against Hamas every two years. All this is because Hamas truly believes it possesses an infallible weapon: The double standards applied to Israel.
I’m afraid this is something dangerously weighing on Gaza. The deadline to reach a new agreement regarding the Iranian nuclear program due on July 20 has been moved four months as an extension to continue with the negotiations was reached among the parties. Yet one thing is clear: The demand to make Iran comply with what the U.N. demanded in its different solutions —a total end to uranium enrichment—has already been waived! Go figure! What’s on the table now is basically how many centrifuges the Ayatollahs’ regime can keep.
The U.S. administration is contented with Iran not having the A-bomb while Israel doesn’t want Iran to have the capability to build it. Those are two very different things.
If Hamas believes it can emerge victorious from this challenge to Israel, despite the expected military damage since Hamas’s actions don’t fall into the traditional logic of what deterrence means, it’s not unreasonable to think that Tehran may think similarly and act accordingly. And if there’s no reliable deterrent against a conventional enemy, it could only be worse to face one with nuclear capabilities.
The more internationally isolated Iran perceives Israel is, the more daring Iran’s actions will be. That’s why, to bolster Israel’s deterrence—and thus, our own security—we should support Jerusalem in their fight against the terrorists who run Gaza. Only Israel can project sufficiently-powerful deterrence capabilities to impede Iran’s nuclear ambitions. A criticized, punished, and isolated Israel because it acts in self-defense is the best recipe for its enemies—who are also enemies to all of us—to feel stronger and to inflame their dreams. That’s something we cannot afford.