What an extraordinary farce! Yet one that the world participates in willingly.
The Palestinian Authority is the only governmental entity (in this instance not a state) in the world to openly declare its intention to eradicate a neighboring state, a state that just happens to be a member of the United Nations. As the charters of both Fatah and Hamas call for Israel’s eradication, there should have been no issue about intentions here, but wishful thinkers world wide kept talking about moderation. The PA itself, however, put to rest any lingering doubt about those intentions with the joint Hamas-Fatah acceptance of the "Prisoners’ Document" at the end of June. This document, drafted by Palestinian security prisoners in Israel and then further modified to Hamas specifications, does not recognize Israel’s right to exist; endorses terrorism even within pre-’67 Israel under the guise of the right to "resist occupation by any means;" and demands the "right of return" for some four million plus hostile "refugees" who would destroy Israel from within.
Hamas, identified within the western world as a terrorist organization, heads this governmental entity and has been conferred some measure of legitimacy by virtue of the elections that put it in power. The aura of sanctity implied by the term "democratically elected" government is one that it’s difficult to challenge, even though that government is pathetically lacking legitimacy in a host of ways and the election, while free, was hardly a signpost of genuine democracy.
The situation is breathtakingly ludicrous. The Palestinian Authority was created by virtue of an agreement between Israel and the PLO. As a matter of principle, Hamas recognizes neither Israel nor any of the agreements struck between the PLO and Israel. This means that Hamas does not really recognize the Palestinian Authority’s legitimacy. And yet it ran in an election under the PA banner and heads the PA. This is straight out of never-never land. But diplomats around the world have been hoping (wink wink) these stumbling blocks can be overcome.
Of late, Hamas has been directly involved in killing two Israeli soldiers and then in the kidnapping of a third. Just days ago Hamas also took credit for the launching of an "upgraded" Kassam that landed in the heart of Ashkelon, damaging a school building. This follows a barrage of hundreds of Kassams that have landed on communities in the western Negev in recent weeks.
Sounds pretty much like an out and out declaration of war.
But there’s more. Fatah, the party of PA president Mahmoud Abbas, was directly involved in the June 25th kidnapping of Eliyahu Asheri, an 18 year old yeshiva student, who was summarily shot in the head. It wasn’t apparent at first that members of Fatah’s Al Aksa Brigades were the perpetrators of this horror, as the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza received Asheri’s ID by fax and were the ones to display it for the press. And still we are not done. The three Al Aksa men involved with this kidnapping who were seized by the IDF from a PA police station in Ramallah were there not because they had been arrested and were being held pending trial, but because after they confessed the PA police harbored them. Seems these guys had PA security force connections.
Is further evidence of the malevolence of the Palestinian Authority really necessary?
One would think not. In a saner world, one would expect western leaders to stand up at this point and declare that the PA is a terrorist entity devoid of legitimacy and that it is essential to side with Israel. Unfortunately, our world is not that sane. Still there is talk about negotiations when this "crisis" is over. Still there are claims that Israel is without the "right" to initiate a major operation in Gaza.
And what of Israel’s response? So far, it is insufficient. There is a sort of military tip-toeing, an unwillingness to confront the realities head on. Yes, the Security Cabinet has approved a more extensive incursion into northern Gaza. But not the kind of ground operation – as per Operation Defensive Shield – that will ultimately make the difference. Still only empty buildings are being bombed, and there is no reinstatement of selective assassinations, for fear of accidentally injuring civilians. The IDF is facing off against terrorists without conscience. They deliberately operate in the midst of civilian activity – sometimes even launching Kassams from school and hospital courtyards. They are confident of one of two outcomes: either Israel will be afraid to go after them, or, if they do, will damage civilians and take the heat.
The Israeli government and the IDF are quick to announce, as well, that there is (heavens!) no intention of staying permanently in Gaza. Precisely why not is left unclear. The Palestinians were given their chance with the withdrawal of Israeli presence last year. This was the opportunity for development, but they utilized the time to strengthen terrorism instead.
Put simply, Israel has yet to announce that this is a war and that the goal is victory over a sworn enemy.
This simply will not do. Israel’s mettle is being tested, and ultimately she cannot afford to fall short.
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