Call Israel’s bluff, Hamas: Give up the rockets

The News TribuneNovember 21, 2012 

The only hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinians is a two-state solution that guarantees both Jews and Arabs a secure homeland.

That’s a distant dream, though, without a no-rockets solution right now.

When fighting breaks out between Israel and the jihadist Hamas government of Gaza, the news is dominated by massive Israeli air strikes and dead Palestinian noncombatants. It looks like swatting a flea with a sledgehammer.

Mostly unreported, month in and month out, are the barrages of missiles that Hamas and related militias launch into Israel.

The latest outbreak of warfare between Israel and Gaza is dated to Israel’s Nov. 14 assassination of Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari. Jabari was the mastermind behind Hamas’ increasingly sophisticated arsenal, which now includes smuggled Iranian ballistic missiles capable of hitting Jerusalem.

When Jabari died, Hamas vowed revenge and launched rockets at Israel, hence the Israeli counterstrikes aimed at firing pads and other missile infrastructure in Gaza, among other targets.

According to The New York Times, though, Gaza jihadists had already fired – in 2012 alone – more than 700 rockets at Israel. Killing Jabari may have been a political blunder, but he was Gaza’s Rocketman – a legitimate military target.

Hamas is internationally recognized as a terrorist organization whose long-term goal is the complete destruction of Israel. Its leaders exalt death; they have celebrated Osama bin Laden and suicide bombings; its military has hidden weaponry in densely populated areas, betting that attacks will produce videos of mangled civilians.

Nevertheless, it has admirers who will jump to its defense every time the rockets are mentioned.

The standard line – before the Iranian missiles arrived – was that the rockets were crude and inaccurate. That’s like saying it’s OK to shoot at someone as long as you’re a bad shot.

No country but Israel is expected to sit passively as mortal enemies drop high explosives on its towns and territory.

The Hamas-enablers also argue that the rockets are a justified response to Israel’s sea blockade on Gaza. The blockade does cripple the Gaza economy – but it also slows down Hamas’ imports of heavy weapons.

Israel-haters talk as if the Israelis enjoy killing Palestinians for the sport of it. If that’s so, Hamas could call Israel’s bluff – on the blockade, the air strikes, everything – by repudiating its rockets and disarming other jihadists in Gaza.

If Hamas abandoned its offensive weapons and Israel kept attacking, that would be proof that the Israeli military simply wants to use Palestinians for target practice.

But wait. More than 2 million Palestinians live on Israel’s eastern border, in the West Bank. Like the Palestinians of Gaza, they have legitimate territorial grievances and a long history of hostility with Israel.

The West Bank is under different management: the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority wants a homeland, not the extinction of Israel.

It isn’t firing rockets at Israel, and Israel isn’t firing back. That can’t be sheer coincidence.

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