Saturday, August 2

Gaza - Where to?

A major objective of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge is the destruction of the vast network of tunnels that Hamas militants use to smuggle weapons and to infiltrate into Israel itself. Here’s a look at the Hamas tunnels and the threat they pose to Israeli security.
Scene of destruction in Gaza 
Where to, Gaza? Nobody can answer that question with certainty. A 72 hour cease-fire has been declared today with the agreement of Hamas and Israel. It is doubtful if it will be kept. The Hamas record of maintaining declared cease-fires is non-existent. During Operation Protective Edge, five cease-fires were declared and were never observed. These cease-fires were unilateral and never accepted by Hamas.

The last 72 hour cease-fire was supposed to be a humanitarian gesture. It was broken two hours after it was declared with the kidnapping of a soldier, Hadar Goldin (23). This occurred during an IDF operation of destroying a tunnel when a suicide bomber blew himself up, killing two IDF soldiers. Hamas denies kidnapping this soldier. His whereabouts are unknown.

On the ground, Israel has scored a victory against Hamas but they will not be allowed to consolidate it. The reasons for this war are well-known. Hamas had started it by firing missiles into Israel. Israel's response is to protect its citizens from missile fire into its territory. Every country would do the same to protect its citizens. Hamas is not prepared to recognize Israel's right to exist. They had prepared a myriad of tunnels, not for having a picnic, but for organizing terrorist infiltration underground to perform a major terror attack against Israeli citizens. This would be coordinated with missile launching at the same time. According to reports, the planned attack was scheduled to take place on Rosh Hashanah as most people would be on holiday for two days.

Israeli intelligence had knowledge of these tunnels, but no action was taken to stop them from being built. Also the tunnels are more widespread than was initially believed. Israelis are well protected by the Iron Dome interceptor missiles as well as bomb shelters. This explains the low casualty figures. Had it not been for the Iron Dome, the casualty figures would have been much higher.
Israelis were inconvenienced by the sirens, having to run into security shelters many times a day. This situation is stressful, but it is a small price compared to what innocent citizens of Gaza have paid. The destruction and death in Gaza is an enormous tragedy of incomprehensible dimensions. Total devastation of innocent Gazans and their children is of great concern to all of us. The tactic of Hamas using innocent people as human shields has worked against Israel successfully and it is influencing world opinion against Israel.

Many scenes of destruction and human suffering in Gaza work against Israel. Even while I write, there are reports of exchange of fire between Israel and Hamas terrorists. It is dreaming to expect that the Hamas terrorist organization will keep to its part of the cease-fire. Their ideology does not agree to any cease-fire or cessation of hostilities as mentioned earlier in this article. The cease-fire has already been broken at 10.00 am by Hamas. This has resulted in 9 Palestinians being killed. A mortar was fired from Gaza into Kerem Shalom about 2 hours after the "declared" cease-fire. This should not surprise us as in this campaign; Hamas will only accept a cease-fire on its terms.

Despite this cease-fire, Israel will continue to blow up the Gaza tunnels. It claims that it has almost completed its mission. There are still questions as to whether Israel will deepen its military activities in Gaza if the cease-fire does not hold. There will be more cabinet meetings to decide on the next military steps to be taken.

There are extreme left wingers who justify the building of these tunnels. They say "What do you expect? The people of Gaza are enclosed in a small area - the most populated per square kilometer on earth. They are in a massive prison blockaded on all sides by Israel and Egypt. They are fighting against the occupation and seek ways of getting out." They refuse to believe that the purpose of these tunnels is for infiltration of terrorists to attack Israel's citizens.
Meanwhile Israel is winning the war but losing the peace. Pressure will mount against Israel from the US and the EU to stop the war. The pictures of devastation and tragedy in Gaza have an affect on world opinion.

What should be a matter of deep concern is the resilience of Hamas and their ability to launch missiles into Israel despite the severe bombings from land, sea and air. Nobody knows what percentage of Hamas terrorists were killed or wounded out of the total number of Palestinians affected. If Hamas still has the capability of launching rockets then it is possible that the command centers are still intact and have not been defeated. The leadership remains hidden in underground bunkers and probably out of touch with what is happening. The price is being paid by innocent Palestinians and this is the big tragedy.

President Obama made a speech condemning the kidnapping of the soldier and demanding his immediate release as well as the killing of two Israeli soldiers. Naturally his appeal will be ignored by Hamas. What has struck us the most about the US leadership, including John Kerry, is their naivety towards Hamas. They somehow are between the devil and the deep blue sea in their attitude towards Hamas. Hamas does not want peace or a cease-fire except on their terms only, which Israel and Egypt will not accept. Apart from that there is no coordinating body in Hamas with whom to negotiate. The US has proved impotent in the face of Hamas and their strength remains in arranging cease-fires that cannot be kept.

The fighting continues without any sign of abating. Israel will never destroy Hamas apart from weakening Hamas militarily. Hamas has an uncompromising ideology that can never be destroyed. Many Palestinians view Hamas as a freedom movement that strives to end the occupation. They strive to be the only rulers of Palestine. Hamas leaders are not in Gaza and dictate by proxy. Hamas members have a fatal, cruel and self-destructive fantasy that they will not change.

Hamas is not scared of sacrificing its people for its cause even at a heavy cost in blood. What does the leadership care? Khaled Mashal loves the good life in Qatar and his subordinates who carry out his desires are in bunkers out of touch with the suffering of the Gazan People. The heavy losses that Gazans suffer play into their hands while they do nothing. The TV reports and gruesome pictures of the Palestinian tragedy and losses do the job for their propaganda mission against Israel.

The people of Gaza are doomed to a life of hell and endless suffering if Hamas remains at the helm. The cruelty that Hamas carries out against Palestinians who are suspected of opposing them is horrendous. The future of Gaza is uncertain.

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