‘We are doing everything in order to target the terrorists so that the Kassam rockets will stop,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Haaretz.
Oh, that was back in January. Since doing “everything,” several hundred rockets have fallen, bringing death and amputations to the people of Southern Israel.
This past week, Israel again took action to stop the rockets — 4,000 in all. But while the IDF may have wreaked some havoc and killed 116 Palestinians as of Tuesday, when it was all over Haaretz headlined (March 4) that Israel was “Unprepared For Extended Ground Operation in Gaza.” The IDF left, if not with their tail between their legs, with rockets overhead. Haaretz noted that rocket barrages into Israel “accompanied the IDF exit from nothern Gaza.”
Caroline Glick in the Jerusalem Post (Mar. 4) also pointed out that Israel’s show of force was half-baked. Not only did it end prematurely, but the Israeli leaders “only allowed the IDF to deploy one infantry brigade and two partial tank battalions. They refused to expand the operation to a divisional sized force, which would still have been too small to achieve any significant or long-lasting results. The limited geographical scope of the IDF operation — in a 2-3 kilometer zone in northern Gaza — had no impact on Hamas’ ability to continue to shoot off rockets and missiles whose ranges run from 5-25 kilometers.”
And yet, we have the question, posed by Israel’s own Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Mar. 3): Has Israel’s response to 4,000 rockets been “proportional”? Said the MFA, “For an operation to be lawful it must be directed at a ‘legitimate military objective’ and be ‘proportionate.’”
In Yediot Ahronot, Nahum Barnea wrote (March 2), the status quo, with the IDF leaving Gaza while rockets are still flying is “immoral and illogical.” Barnea writes, an Israeli can be expected to sustain a certain level of risk, “but it is unfair to expect them to face danger over an extended period of time without seeing light at the end of the tunnel.” Either Israel reoccupies Gaza, or large sections of it, or Israel negotiates with Hamas, but to “kill and absorb,” the status quo, “doesn’t end the rocket fire and doesn’t curb the arms smuggling.”
Israel has allowed Hamas to masquerade as brutalized, starved in a state of seige but a Washington Post editorial, way back on Jan. 24, said the whole idea that Gaza needing food was hokum: “No one is starving in Gaza,” said the Washington Post, a point echoed in the National Review, which pointed out that Gaza was strong enough agriculturally to export food as recently as 2005.
In light of that, one can make the case that the Israeli response to 4,000 rockets has been disproportionately obsequious. On June 21, 2007, to pick a random day when hundreds of children in Sderot were being medically treated for trauma from the rockets, Israel responded not by sending tanks but by sending trucks. The trucks gave Hamas five tons of tea, 34 tons of macaroni, 15 tons of hummus, and 33 tons of lentils.
That didn’t stop the rockets, so on June 27, a summer day when hundreds of Sderot children were too scared to play outside, Israel sent Gaza five tons of semolina and 27 tons of seedlings.
That didn’t stop the rockets, so the next day Israel sent into the land of Hamas 143 tons of bananas. One may wonder if that was proportionate to the number of rockets.
On July 1, a day when the Jews of Sderot were afraid to go shopping without looking into the sky, Israel sent into Hamas territory 20 tons of coffee and 20 tons of cocoa. The next day, Israel sent Gaza 54 tons of jam. The day after that, as rockets fell, Israel sent Hamas 28 tons of pasta.
All of this was announced by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Cocoa and jam are hardly neccessities. Even as Gaza was smoking from Israel’s retaliatory raids this past week, Israel sent in (on March 2), 62 trucks carrying sugar, milk and fruit, along with meat and fish, among other things.
If that was done for good will, or whether it was proportionate, has gone unreported. Chances are this is the first time you’re hearing about Israel sending tea and jam behind Hamas lines. A few weeks ago, Haaretz (Feb. 12) headlined, “Sderot as Stalingrad,” except the Russians didn’t send the Germans bananas.
Of course, Israel’s bipolar policy also sends tanks and planes into Gaza, too, threatening a “shoah,” says Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, according to The Los Angeles Times (March 2).
The Khaleej Times (March 3), in the United Arab Emirates, headlined its coverage, “The Gaza Holocaust,” and holocaust was also used by Reuters, the BBC, and India’s Calcutta News. Vilnai’s holocaust quote circled the globe.
Vilnay isn’t the only Israeli who needs to learn that loose lips sink ships. One Israeli military official, “speaking on condition of anonymity because of the need not to divulge internal strategy,” told the Associated Press that Israel was planning “a large-scale ground invasion into Gaza and the assassination of Hamas’ political leadership.”
Hey, Israeli military official, good thing you didn’t divulge the strategy, James Taranto pointed out in the online Wall Street Journal.
In the absence of a leader, Maariv (March 2) recalled David Ben-Gurion’s reply to a reporter in 1955 after terrorists from Gaza killed one Israeli and wounded 22 others at a wedding. Israel had to retaliate, he said. “Look at these Jews,” said Ben-Gurion of the wedding. “They come from countries in which their lives were disregarded, where it was possible to abuse them, torture them, beat them and be cruel towards them. They had become used to this, because they were helpless victims of the non-Jews. Here we must prove to them that their blood is no longer in disregard; that the Jewish people have a state and an army that will not allow others to do to them as they please; because there is a price to their lives and property. We must … instill in them feelings of pride and self-worth. We must show them that those who rise up against them will not escape punishment, because they are citizens of a sovereign state, responsible for their lives and their well-being.”
Presumably, the state Ben-Gurion was referring to is the one we know as Israel.