It takes two to cease-fire!
As a full week of attacks from Gaza and responses from Israel was coming to a close, efforts were under way yesterday to arrange a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. By day’s end, it was reported that a cease-fire would be declared at 09:00 a.m., on Tuesday morning, the 8th day of the war.
According to the terms of the cease-fire proposal, both sides were to stop all land, air and sea operations against the other side. In addition, terror groups operating in the Gaza Strip were expected to cease all underground attacks against Israel. Israel was expected to allow people and goods to move freely in and out of Gaza at a re-opened border crossing, although exactly which border crossing was not specified.
With almost no public explanation being given beforehand, at 06:00 this morning (Tuesday), despite continuing rocket attacks from Gaza and heavy political opposition to the Egyptian cease-fire proposal, Israel’s security cabinet decided to accept it – without accomplishing any of Israel’s initial, stated goals.
Around noon today, P.M. Netanyahu made his first public announcement concerning the cease-fire, indicating that Israel was willing to pursue a peaceful end to the violence. But, he added that if Hamas continues its attacks upon Israel, we would expand our operations in Gaza accordingly: “Israel has accepted the Egyptian ceasefire proposal, a goal that was and remains putting an end to rocket fire from Gaza on our cities, providing the citizens of Israel with the peace and quiet to which they are entitled. I know that you know that no country would sit idly by while its civilian population is subjected to terrorist rocket fire. Israel is no exception…If Hamas rejects the Egyptian proposal, and the rocket fire from Gaza does not cease, and that appears to be the case now, we are prepared to continue and intensify our operation to protect our people. For this we have kept full support from the responsible members of the international community.”
As already noted, the decision to accept the Egyptian-sponsored cease-fire proposal was not warmly welcomed by many Israeli ministers. Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon said: “We were willing to pay a heavy price to complete the most significant achievements yet against Hamas…There is no cosmetic facelift to a mistake like this…A cease-fire is a slap in the face for the Israeli people.”
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett expressed that the cease-fire would be “good for Hamas and bad for Israel…A cease-fire at the present time shows the government’s weakness…[It would] now create a bigger campaign against the south of the country and more rocket attacks in another year.”
Ayelet Shaked, of Naftali Bennett’s ultra-nationalist Habayit Hayehudi party, added that “[a] ceasefire without harming Hamas’s tunnels and rockets represents capitulation.” There are many others who expressed similar disagreement and disappointment.
Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Liberman, wants Israel to stop playing around and go in and retake Gaza. This is not a good idea at this time. It would be better if those who live in Gaza decided to take a stand against Hamas, Islami Jihad and other terrorist organisations in their midst. Their real enemy is their own leadership, not our leadership.
Israel is willing to put an end to the belligerence. Hamas is not.
Contrary to what has been contended by many who accuse Israel, who say that it is the aggressor and does not want a cease-fire, Israel demonstrated to everyone that once again, it was willing to make the extra effort and go along with the cease-fire proposal. Hamas, however, had a different perspective and a few minutes after 09:00 a.m., rocket fire from Gaza landed in the southern city of Ashdod, causing property damage, but no injuries. Nevertheless, a number of people were treated for shock. Less than an hour later, a rocket barrage was launched from Gaza towards northern Israel, with five of them being intercepted, including one in the Haifa/Mt. Carmel range. Then came the decision of Hamas – it rejected the cease-fire proposal. Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told the Associated Press that “this proposal is not acceptable.”
Shortly after noon, in response to the continued rocket attacks, the Israeli air force renewed its bombings of Gaza.
Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, a seemingly unending stream of rockets and mortars have been fired from Gaza into Israel. Israel has reportedly destroyed about 3,000 missiles in Gaza, said to be about one-third of Hamas’ missile supply. Over 100 terrorists operating in the region of the Gaza Strip have been killed through Israel responses and around 550 Israelis have been treated for shock. Over 1,500 terror targets have been struck. The terrorist groups have fired about 1,100 rockets and mortars into Israel, close to 200 of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome Missile Defense System.
The figures can be depressing. But, figures alone do not tell the entire story. It has to be remembered that Operation Protective Edge began with the goal of restoring calm to the residents in the south of Israel, after Hamas and its terrorist affiliates engaged in a seemingly endless reign of terror in the south of Israel. The purpose was to remove the military capability of Hamas and Islamic Jihad from launching rockets of different kinds, sizes and ranges into Israel. Promises had been made to protect Israeli citizens and that Israel would do whatever is necessary to achieve that goal. Only a few days ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remained resolute in the face of increasing world opposition against the charge that Israel was killing civilians in Gaza. He explained that Hamas uses human shields to protect itself, resulting in civilian deaths, which Israel has tried to avoid. The use of civilians as shields, and the firing of weapons from civilian locations, are readily admitted by Hamas.
A crime against humanity – yes, but by whom?
Israel is repeatedly condemned for killing innocent women and children in the present war, yes war (not conflict and not operation) with the forces of evil, represented by Hamas and its terrorist associates. Self-defense is not a crime, that is, unless it is Israel who is defending itself. Unlike Hamas, Israel does not target civilians.
When it comes to a crime against humanity, Ibrahim Khraishi, the “Palestinian” representative to the UN Human Rights Council, put the finger of blame directly on Hamas, tacking on Israel at the end as behaving in a similar manner. In a rare moment of truth telling by a “Palestinian” official, he stated: “The missiles that are now being launched against Israel, each and every missile constitutes a crime against humanity, whether it hits or misses, because it is directed at civilian targets. What Israel does against Palestinian civilians also constitutes crimes against humanity. OK? … Therefore, targeting civilians — be it one civilian or a thousand — is considered a crime against humanity...Please note that many of our people in Gaza appeared on TV and said that the Israelis warned them to evacuate their homes before the bombardment. In such a case, if someone is killed, the law considers it a mistake rather than an intentional killing because [the Israelis] followed the legal procedures. As for the missiles launched from our side, we never warn anyone about where these missiles are about to fall or about the operations we carry out. Therefore, people should know more before they talk emotionally about appealing to the ICC [International Criminal Court].”
Arab-Israeli journalist blames Hamas for the present military situation.
Lucy Aharish, an Arab-Israeli and an anchorwoman for i24 News, challenged Alaa al-Mashehrwi (don’t even try to pronounce that name) a Gazan journalist, who appeared on her program last week, and accused Hamas of being responsible for the present situation. She challenged him to get together with other journalist, as well as civilians, and demonstrate against Hamas and Islamic Jihad for their use of civilian population as shields. She further urged him and other “Palestinian” journalists to affirmatively demand that Hamas stop firing rockets into Israel, a move which would be beneficial for both sides and would stop the suffering.
See the following site and then click on the video.
To the same effect, see the interview with Hebron journalist Al Kasmin.
We have to be thankful for journalists like Lucy Aharish, not because she is an Arab-Israeli, but because she dares to think and question and challenge and to see things the way they are and not try to sugar-coat them. Others may have heard her challenge and it would not be surprising if some in Gaza would openly challenge Hamas, risking their lives in the process.
Where do we go from here?
From the looks of things, Hamas will continue to fire rockets into civilian communities in Israel, hoping to draw a greater Israeli response. For Hamas, blood and death are good public relations. It cannot defeat Israel militarily, so it will try to achieve its political goals through international outrage at the deaths of civilians, their civilians, even though they, themselves, are primarily responsible for such civilian casualties. Israel is again considering a ground offensive, which possibility looms large on the horizon at this time. While a ground operation is absolutely necessary in order to make sure that the job is done, namely, destroying the military infrastructure, action on the ground will significantly increase the body count, that of Israel as well as of Hamas. This long-standing conflict between “them” and “us” can quickly end when they will love their children more than they hate us.
First Israeli death from the present war
The first Israeli death attributable directly to wounds suffered from mortar fire from Gaza occurred today. The man was critically wounded at the Erez border crossing and died in Barzili Hospital in Ashkelon.
Netanyahu fires Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon.
As noted above, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon indicated his clear disagreement with the decision to accept the Egyptian-sponsored cease-fire. He added to that the following: “I won’t (accept) the weak, leftist spirit of the prime minister.” Netanyahu’s responded promptly and fired him this evening, saying, in part, that Danon acted irresponsibly in his position as Deputy Defense Minister by attacking the leadership of the State that is involved in the conflict with terrorist organizations. He added that Danon’s “statements are beneficial to the Hamas terrorist organization”. And, he added, in light of Danon’s lack of trust in the government, it was expected that he would take responsibility for his actions and resign. Inasmuch as he failed to do so, Netanyahu exercised his authority to remove him from his position. Danon’s response: “Netanyahu failed and is conducting himself in weakness.”
It is understandable that P.M. Netanyahu would be greatly upset with Danon’s statements. But, removing him from his position as Deputy Defense Minister is a drastic measure. As a country, we pride ourselves on being democratic. Freedom of speech is a cornerstone of our society. Netanyahu made tough statements and promises over the past few days. The proposed cease-fire would have been dishonoured by Hamas, just as prior cease-fires have been ignored by it. Danon had a right to express his opinion, even though it may not have been the right way or in the right forum. Disagreement with government decisions is part of regular life here. A better way to have handled the situation would have been to have a face-to-face meeting between Netanyahu and Danon, in an effort to resolve their differences in a way that would be beneficial to the government and to them individually. Such a meeting could show other ministers that disagreements with a given decision or policy do not mean lack of support for the government, or for the State of Israel. Danon is an outspoken opponent of the “two-state solution” and in favor of working towards the goal of extending full Israeli sovereignty to the majority of Judea and Samaria. Netanyahu gave the impression a few days ago that this is more or less his own thinking. Division in leadership, while facing a common enemy, is not wise. Publicly displaying such division is not politically healthy and evidences a degree of weakness before our enemies, both near and far.
After eight days of Operation Protective Edge, emotions are bound to be exhibited, particularly when another meaningless cease-fire proposal is put on the table, without accomplishing the goals of the Operation. We need the government and all of its ministers to work together, with a common goal for the benefit of the citizens of Israel, particularly those in the south. It is difficult to reconcile firing Danny Danon because of what he said, while not doing anything to remove Hanin Zoabi from the Knesset because of her anti-Israeli words and actions.
And that was the cease-fire that ceased, while the fire continues.
For the government of Israel, my prayer is: “Be strong, and let us show ourselves courageous for the sake of our people and for the cities of our God; and may the LORD do what is good in His sight.” (2 Sam. 10:12)