Monday, December 29, 2008

Hamas gets the War they Asked for, Not the War they Expected

Hamas wanted to go to war with Israel. They have been egging Israel on, hoping to get some sort of small response. They need to justify undermining the Palestinian interests they claim to represent. Over 200 rockets were fired into Israel during the last month of the cease fire. Israel refused to retaliate and begged for the cease-fire to be extended.

In the recent celebration of Hamas' birthday they decided to play the Gilad Shalit card. They had a play with the actor playing Shalit begging to be returned to his mommy and daddy. Shalit has been a prisoner for over 900 days. Hamas has refused to act according to the Geneva Convention by allowing the Red Cross to visit. The price for his release has been set to include prisonsors serving life sentences for carrying out terrorist attacks. When the head of the PFLP last week was sentenced to 30 years in jail, Hamas responded that he was number one on the list for any trade.

Nothing positive has come out of Israel pulling out of Gaza. There are communities that still have not found permanent housing accomodations. Sderot has been a regular landing spot for target practise from Gaza. While the government was lauding the success of the ceasefire, on the ground Israeli's were asking "What ceasefire?" Hamas decided not to renew the ceasefire and increased rocket attacks as soon as the agreement expired.

Israel had to respond. Prime Minister Olmert went on Palestinian TV to speak directly to the people to tell them the rockets had to stop. On Friday Israel began allowing huminitarian aid into Gaza. Previously this had been a condition of cease to the rocket attacks. The public in Israel was told that they military would wait for better weather before launching an attack.

On Saturday the IAF hit Hamas and they hit them hard. They had used the same tactic they had used to remove Jews from their home in Hevron. They convinced Hamas that they were not going to attack yet and took out all 40 Hamas police stations. Hamas cried foul. They had not evacuated the stations because they had received assurance from Egypt a mere hours before that Israel was not ready to attack. This is why the casualty count was so high on the first day.

Israel needs to protect it's population from constant rocket attacks the same way they need to protect their citizens from suicide bombers. The security wall may attract negative attention but it works. Hopfully this war will finally bring the same result. The rockets being fired are landing in territory that would remain part of Israel. Even if Israel agreed to withdraw to the 1948 borders, Hamas has made future territory conessions impossible. It just brings their weapons and rockets closer to more heavily populated parts of the country.

There is only one permanent solution to this crisis. Palestinians living in Gaza must concede that Israel is here to say and they need to live with that reality. This means stop shooting at civilian targets and recongnizing that while Israel has made many concessions since they embarked on the peace process, it is time for them to do the same.

On a side note, I have noticed that the Canadian media has not reported on the Israeli casualties today. Hamas killed one and wounded 5 in a rocket attack on the city of Ashkelon. They hit a building under construction. All of the victims were Arabs with the death being of a Bedouin from a near by village. Hamas has demanded all Egyptian and Jordanians out of Israel to avoid such incidents in the future.

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