As the Israeli ground offensive begins in Gaza, it is inevitable that the death toll on both sides will continue to grow and it’s worth reflecting on the reasons why Israel has had to enter territory, which it left more than three years ago in the hope that the Palestinians would grasp the opportunity to show the world and their neighbours that they could turn this no longer occupied territory into an example of a well-conducted peaceful society.
Surely, such a course would have convinced all and sundry that it was time for the Israelis to also leave the West Bank and, in this way an independent Palestinian state could be established alongside Israel bringing an end to "the cycle of violence", to the "occupation" and to Hanan Ashrawi's repeated ranting on the subject?
We’ll never know the answer to that because Hamas, Islamic Jihad and various others used the opportunity to fire rockets at Israel even as the last Jewish settlements in Gaza were being dismantled. Ultimately, Hamas took control of Gaza and turned it into a terrorist base. Recently, it imposed Sharia Law on its population.
In June 2008, Hamas agreed to an Egyptian brokered truce, which it never honoured from the very beginning. There was a lull in the number of missiles fired at Israeli populated centres but they never stopped and Hamas took no steps to prevent them from being fired. Contrary to the requirements of the truce, Hamas used the lull period to re-arm through tunnels from Egypt.
I’ve been alerted by ICJS research into an interesting article in the International Herald Tribune by Steven Erlanger In Egyptian border town, commerce via tunnel halts. The article is by no means sympathetic to Israel but it clearly demonstrates how the Israelis are focussed on attacking military targets i.e. the tunnels used for smuggling weaponry and not the commercial targets.
"Hamas, the residents said, controls other tunnels, conduits for guns, cement, explosives and fertilizers for explosives."
"Muhammad al-Zarb said that the Israelis somehow seemed to know which tunnels were commercial and which were run by Hamas, and that they seemed to be selective in their bombing. 'If someone has a tunnel for Chipsy, it seems O.K.,' he said. 'When a Hamas guy has a tunnel for weapons, they bomb it.'"
It’s clear that much of the sophisticated missiles used to attack Israeli civilian centres came into Gaza in this way and why the setting up of a legitimate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas has been complicated by Hamas duplicity and lies.
This duplicity also goes far beyond the thugs in Hamas and extends to some in the media. Fairfax correspondent Paul McGeough was shilling yesetrday for Hamas in an opinion piece Incursion in November was the last straw blaming Israel's November 2008 attack on terrorists for the collapse of the truce and sneeringly suggesting that the country's "global PR machine" (that's right - the international conspiracy again!) was behind its claim that "the objective was to destroy a tunnel which they feared Hamas might use to abduct an Israeli soldier - as they had done in the past."
This simplistic view defies logic when you consider that the tunnel really existed and it was being dug from Gaza into Israel and there was no other possible use for such tunnel apart from the entry into Israel for sinister, terrorist purposes. Certainly, neither McGeough nor any other military expert, commentator or journalist can come up with any other explanation. Further, in these circumstances, any sovereign state would be entitled to prevent that activity although there are some who would have you believe that "any sovereign state" does not include the Jewish State.
That's one of the many reasons why the current ground offensive, as undesirable as that might seem to many, has had to be undertaken. For the safety of Israel's citizens and ultimately, for the safety of the Palestinians and the rest of the world.
Finally, if you think McGeough is a nasty piece of work then, for its sheer bastardry, it's worth contemplating this fairy floss obituary of a would-be mass murderer from the Guardian.