Saturday, December 27, 2008

War on Hamas, again

While we were having lunch with my parents-in-law and the children of my brother-and-sister-in-law ( who are abroad for two weeks ) Israel's long awaited attack against Hamas started. We probably would not have known about it if my wife's nephew had not turned on the television in order to watch some sports programme. Instead of sports we - or at least I - watched the news, zapping between three Israeli channels and the main foreign stations. My thoughts are with the people of Sderot, Netivot, Ashkelon, Nir Oz, Kfar Aza, Kiryat Gat, and all other Israeli cities, villages, moshavim and kibbutzim that will probably suffer more rocket/mortar hits during these operations than they are used to ( one man in Netivot has died already as the result of a rocket attack; I know what it feels like to wait for rockets to fall: for me and my family one week of that frustrating and frightening tension was enough to flee our home more than two years ago, and the people on the Israeli side of the Gaza border have been living in that situation for eight years now, eight years! ), also with the poor citizens of Gaza, but especially with the poor family of Gilad Shalit, whose life is even more in danger now. This attack was evitable, but Hamas chose the confrontation, I get the impression. Based on the pictures that we see on the television - more or less the same pictures that you see, I assume - I would say that by far the most of the Palestinian victims of Israel's attacks are armed or at least uniformed men. Unfortunately Palestinians citizens are and will continue to be hurt as well, I am afraid, but it seems that the IAF does its utmost to hit only relevant - i.e. Hamas - targets, particularly the infrastructure of the organization. Some very prominent Hamasniks appear to be among the wounded and killed. Almost all rockets and mortars that are being fired against Israel right now are launched from within heavily populated areas, with the obvious goal of attracting an Israeli response that will lead to heavy civilian casualties. Soon the international condemnations of Israel will start, or maybe thay already have started, but I doubt if the Israeli government will take them too much into account. And I cannot blame the government for that. Where are those condemnations whenever Israeli citizens are deliberately targeted by Palestinian rockets, or even when Palestinian children and other innocents are hit by those same rockets? Israel is responsible for the protection of its own citizens. If the Hamas regime had taken the same responsibility for the citizens of Gaza - if, for instance, instead of smuggling more and more weaponry the smugglers of Gaza had brought in more food and medical supplies through the hundreds or thousands of tunnels that lead from Egypt to Gaza - Israelis and Palestinians would not be in this situation today. I wonder what the goals of this ongoing operation are, how long it will last, and whether ground troops will be used as well. No doubt Israeli electoral considerations play a role, but it is hard to say which role exactly. Is the toppling of the Hamas government - if that is feasible and desirable at all, I do not know - one of the goals? I would expect that the main goal is to make Hamas understand and feel that it has a vital interest in keeping the border quiet. I am sure I will watch more television than usually today and in the next few days. Now I am going back to work.

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