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Israel has no choice. If its neighbors refuse to live in peace with them, Israel will have to defend itself with as much force and conviction as necessary as any nation wishing to survive would do.
Throughout the tiny State of Israel, the rockets are falling like rain. We can hardly imagine what it is like. More than 2,000 rockets were fired into heavily populated civilian areas for four consecutive days as Hamas attacked Israel with a barrage of rockets that began on Monday, May 10. That is an average of more than one shell fired into Israeli cities and towns every three minutes for four days in a row – day and night – with no end in sight. International flights destined for Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv from airports all around the world were rerouted or canceled due to the threat. On Thursday evening, a heavy barrage of rockets was directed at the airport itself.
Although as many as 300 of the rockets from Gaza failed to clear the border and fell inside the enclave, this unending barrage, falling in cities throughout southern and central Israel, is creating a ‘rain’ of terror on Israelis throughout the country.
Israel Fights Back
But Israel is not without its defenses. Hundreds of the rockets that were heading toward populated areas were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said. And it appears that the Israeli government is now preparing for a ground war. However, as of early Friday morning, all Israeli ground troops were operating from Israeli territory in an operation they call “Operation Guardians of the Wall.”
Israel is a tiny country that, despite its huge presence on the world stage, is only slightly larger than the state of New Jersey. On a map, it would fit comfortably in Lake Michigan and be lost on a United States map. So the rockets that were aimed at civilian population centers throughout southern and central Israel, including the coastal city of Tel Aviv (Israel’s largest metropolitan area), have laid the groundwork for a new war between Israel and the terrorist organizations in Gaza that have pledged to destroy it. The Geneva Convention, which is supposed to prohibit attacks on civilian areas, is not a factor in the Hamas playbook. They make up their own rules and ignore the ones that interfere with their intention to destroy the Jewish State of Israel.
It is not only the rockets that are destroying the quality of life in Israel. Since the conflict started, Arab riots have erupted in several Israeli cities with mixed Jewish/Arab populations, such as Lod, Jaffa, Acco (Acre), Haifa, and Jerusalem. The situation is getting increasingly alarming and very dangerous.
In Jaffa, a 19-year-old soldier has been hospitalized in serious condition with a skull fracture and a cerebral hemorrhage after being badly beaten by an Arab mob. In the city of Lod, a Jewish paramedic has reportedly been shot and is in serious condition, and a synagogue was set on fire. And in the Arab city of Um-al-Fahm, two Israeli women had to be rescued when they accidentally drove into that Arab city in the center of the country. In Jerusalem, in the days preceding the bombings, thousands of Arabs rioted on the Temple Mount, holy to both Muslims and Jews. When the riots spilled out into the streets around the ancient walls of the Old City, an Israeli was nearly lynched as he drove his car near the city walls.
On Tuesday, May 11, on the second day of the ‘rain of rockets,’ Israel announced that it had destroyed a 12-story building in Gaza after warning the residents to leave immediately. This is standard procedure for the IDF, which typically warns civilians living in target areas to evacuate before bombing the buildings. The IDF makes mass automated phone calls and blasts text messages in Arabic to the residents’ cell phones in order to warn them to leave the target buildings before the bombing begins. Sadly, Hamas has been known to force Gaza civilians and even their children to remain in the targeted buildings to prevent them from leaving.
As a matter of policy, Israel does not target civilians and residential areas, nor does the IDF routinely destroy residential buildings unless they are harboring terrorist operations, as this one was. It was being used for planning and operations of the recent attacks on Israel.
On the other hand, Hamas has made it a trademark to deliberately place its military assets within the heart of the civilian population in Gaza, knowing that the IDF has typically gone to great lengths to avoid killing civilians. In fact, it is well known that Hamas systematically uses its civilians as human shields. In fact, Hamas has freely admitted that they embrace this practice as they launch rockets at Israeli civilians. They have also revealed that they use protected civilian facilities such as universities, hospitals, schools, private homes, and mosques for hiding and storing rockets, explosives, weapons, and ammunition.
“Operation Guardians of the Wall”
Now Israel is fighting back. In response to the ongoing barrage of rockets aimed at civilian targets, Israel mobilizes itself against the terror. The IDF Chief of Staff has canceled all furloughs for combat troops, and called up 7,000 Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reserve soldiers for both combat and for Home Front Command, which helps to guard civilian areas. Defense Minister Benny Gantz has also given his approval to the military to call up as many as 9,000 reservists as needed from regular IDF ranks, as well as ten companies from the paramilitary Border Patrol to bolster the police and help quell the local violence, stressing that no IDF soldiers would be involved in local law enforcement activities.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear that Israel will extract a heavy price from Hamas for the rocket attacks that began on Monday. On Thursday afternoon, the Israeli military released a statement that it had just conducted an airstrike on a Hamas intelligence center with “dozens of terrorists inside.” They said that this was a command center for the terrorist organizations’ surveillance (spying) work.
The IDF said it has also bombed a central Hamas rocket production site and a Hamas navy military post in the central Gaza Strip, as well as a number of other weapons production sites. They struck the operational apartment of the deputy commander of the Izz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas military wing, in northern Gaza, and three additional operational apartments belonging to the company commander in the Sajaiya regiment in northern Gaza, the company commander in the Shabura regiment, also in northern Gaza, and the Hamas company commander in the Deir al-Balah regiment in Gaza.
In another raid, the IDF commander of the Gaza Division, Brigadier General Nimrod Aloni, said that they had discovered a ‘terrorist tunnel’ leading from Gaza into Israel, from which Hamas terrorists were about to attack Israeli targets. The IDF destroyed it. “We buried 20 Hamas operatives in the tunnel we attacked just before they tried to raid our territory. We turned the tunnels into a death trap,” he said.
As of late Thursday night, the Israeli Air Force has hit more than 1,000 Hamas targets in Gaza. Between 80 and 90 terrorist operatives, including a number of senior commanders, have been killed.
Then, shortly after midnight on Thursday night, as the conflict entered its fifth day, the Israeli military released a statement that air and ground forces were attacking Gaza. However, they denied that this was a “ground invasion” because Israeli troops were firing from Israel’s side of the border with Gaza with artillery and tank fire, and were supported by the Israeli Air Force from the sky.
In case Hamas had any illusions about Israel’s determination and military capabilities, it should be very clear by now that Israel means business. It will not allow Hamas to destroy the only homeland that exists in the world for the Jewish people.
What does a government do when the entire country is under attack by an endless barrage of rockets by a terrorist organization?
The answer is simple. You do whatever is necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of your citizens, even if it means outright war. Under normal circumstances, America would do no less. But the United States is a huge country, and the sirens that give Israelis only seconds of warning to find safety from incoming rockets and missiles don’t exist here. We would be totally unprepared for such an attack on one of our cities.
But Israel is facing exactly that in all of its cities. In fact, Hamas has claimed that it is using a new rocket that can hit virtually any target in Israel. So far, that claim is unverified, but since Hamas is getting much of its weaponry from Iran, anything is possible. And that threat hangs heavily over the entire population of Israel.
So What Next? When does reality trump radical Islamic ideology?
Here’s the reality. Hamas is outgunned and outmaneuvered. It should be obvious. Its rockets, manned by highly motivated but relative amateurs, are no match for Israel’s sophisticated airpower, military strength, and highly trained warriors. But what they lack in skills and expertise makes up for in unfettered zeal and thirst for blood.
Today, as the Israeli-Arab violence continues to spiral out of control, Israel is fighting a two-front (and maybe even a three-front) war, and the terrorists show no sign of giving in or giving up.
The FIRST FRONT is with Hamas in Gaza, and the storm of missiles that so far seems to have no end. This is a war of violent ideologues against the Jewish people who are fighting – once again – for their survival. The stakes couldn’t be higher, and the confrontation is growing.
The SECOND FRONT is within Israel’s Jewish-Arab cities, where tempers are flaring, and attacks and riots are becoming daily events. Synagogues are being burned and destroyed; mobs are attacking people on the street without any other reason than that they are Jewish; and the mob violence is spreading, while the police are stretched so thin that they can hardly contain the violence.
The THIRD FRONT may be opening up on Israel’s northern border. According to the Lebanese media, Hezbollah in Lebanon, to Israel’s north, fired three rockets at Israel from southern Lebanon this week. The IDF confirmed the rocket fire, but suggested that it was not Hezbollah, but possibly a fringe group from one of the still-inhabited refugee camps (built-in 1948 and never closed) that fired the rockets. In any case, the rockets landed in an open area, and there were no reports of injury or damage.
But that said, the potential for a third front on Israel’s northern border is a real and dangerous possibility, and one that we have been expecting in the event that trouble should break out in Gaza. A third front will weaken Israel’s resources by spreading them out too dangerously thin. So far, that potential northern front is relatively quiet. But that could change at any time.
Israel’s Righteous Cause – To Survive and Thrive
Every war that Israel has been forced to engage in is a fight for survival. Hamas’ mission is clear. Hezbollah has the same mission. As does the Palestinian Authority. The destruction of the Jewish state and the creation of a Muslim state in its place, with Jerusalem as its capital is the mission.
They have no interest in making peace with Israel, as their respective charters and public statements make abundantly clear. All efforts at peace-making by foreign leaders who understand the situation poorly are doomed to failure when the main players don’t want peace.
Today Israel has no choice. Peace is not on the table. If Israel’s neighbors refuse to live in peace with them, Israel will defend itself with as much force and conviction as necessary, as any nation wishing to survive would do. And Israel has the capability to fight its enemies and defeat them.
What is difficult to understand is the perniciousness and blindness of Hamas’ leaders, who would rather see their own people suffer in poverty, squalor, and despair, than give up their hopes for the slaughter of Jews in Israel and what they consider to be the reclamation of the Jewish Land of Israel for the Muslim State of Palestine, to be ruled under Islamic law.
In a show of limited support for Israel, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Wednesday that he is sending a low-level envoy to the Middle East to “seek to calm tensions” even as he urged Israel to avoid killing civilians. There is little hope that this Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Hady Amr, who is supposed to provide oversight on Israeli and Palestinian Authority affairs, will be able to accomplish anything at all. However, he is expected to meet with both Israeli and Palestinian Authority leaders. He lacks both the vision and the authority to do anything significant, and his mission is driven by a return to the old, stale “two-state solution” that never worked and failed every time it was brought to the table. Neither Hamas, not the Palestinian Authority, nor Israel itself, are interested in a two-state solution, which is the false dream of a myopic U.S. administration that has little understanding of the realities of the Middle East, and insufficient imagination to turn that false hope into a solution that might really work.
President Donald Trump had that vision, abandoned the two-state solution, and created a new pathway to peace in the region with his Abraham Accords. He was willing to abandon the old, worn-out, failed peace plan model, and he laid the groundwork for peace, which the Biden Administration has discarded with a flourish. Biden’s weakness and lack of vision have given the terrorists new hope and inspired them to initiate this new assault against Israel.
It is not clear how long Hamas can keep up this action against Israel. Hamas’ Achilles heel may be of their own making. The neglect that they have visited upon the Gaza Strip and its people is coming back to haunt them. The infrastructure of Gaza is in disarray, and there are shortages of essential fuel and water. According to one official, three of the four turbines that normally run in Hamas’s power plant are currently out of service as a result of the fuel shortage.
This is because the barrage of rockets from Gaza forced Israel to shut down the Kerem Shalom Crossing, through which fuel is usually shipped into Gaza. Some of this may also be due to the rockets fired by terrorists that struck some of the power lines that bring electricity into the Strip near the city of Rafah. Most likely, it’s a combination of both. And as a result, the electricity that normally flows to Gaza residents for 16 hours a day, is now only providing power for five. The residents of the Gaza Strip appear to be angry, but they are hiding in their homes. However angry they may be, they would face awful retribution if they reveal it to the Hamas tyrants. So they hide and hope the misery will pass.
Hamas’s fight is far from over. Abu Obeida, spokesman for Hamas’ military wing on Operation “Al-Quds Sword,” said: “We have more surprises that will make our people happy. The attack on Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Dimona, and Beer Sheva, is only the beginning. There are no red lines in our response. We only have a sword and fire.”
Israel’s Only Solution: To Win
If there are no red lines to stop Hamas, there is only one path for Israel. These endless wars with their Arab enemies – there have been 14 wars since Israel’s founding in 1948 – cannot continue. And it is up to Israel to finally put an end to them.
It is amazing that despite 73 years of facing terrorism and war with its neighbors, the Jewish State has still managed to become a global leader in the introduction of technological innovations that have changed the world – in medicine, communications, computer science, agriculture, and military science. This tiny country has also produced nine Olympic medal winners, one gold, one silver, and seven bronze. And 12 Israelis have been awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry, economics, literature, and peace. Israel has more Nobel Prizes per capita than the United States, France, and Germany, and more laureates, in real numbers, than India, Spain, and China. And out of the top 30 countries, Israel is listed as having the 17th most powerful fighting force globally. And most impressive, Israel has been able to maintain its democracy in the middle of a region known for its totalitarianism. This is a remarkable story of a nation that has been under siege for all of its 73 years of existence, and has a population of only nine million people.
Israel’s choice is really no choice at all. It must do whatever is necessary, not only to survive but to thrive, as it has for its first 73 years. The Biden Administration would do well to up its game with regard to Israel and stand shoulder to shoulder with one of our most loyal and valuable allies in the world. Israel will survive this new assault on its sovereignty and its survival. And America must be there, too, in support of democracy and as an enemy of tyranny and the evil of terrorism.
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Excellent perspective. Mazel tov.