The Palestinian unity government, via its co-equal partner Hamas, is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity against Israeli civilians. Hamas has launched scores of rockets from Gaza aimed at major Israeli cities covering more than half of Israel, including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Caesarea. The attacks have escalated from 6 on June 27th to more than 160 on July 8th. This is Hamas’s version of the Nazi-style air blitz, meant to terrorize the Israeli population into submission. Imitating Nazi tactics is a logical extension of the great esteem which Hamas leaders and their Palestinian forebears have held for Adolf Hitler.
"For the first time, the (Ezzedine al-) Qassam Brigades strike Haifa with an R160 rocket, and strike occupied Jerusalem with four M75 rockets and Tel Aviv with four M75 rockets," a Hamas statement boasted.
Hamas also attempted to invade Israel with a naval commando landing on Ashkelon’s Zikkim beach, which the IDF repelled.
In response to these acts of clear Palestinian aggression, Israel to date has carefully controlled the extent of its reprisals. Israel waited several weeks and issued a series of warnings before finally launching its military operation against Hamas on July 7th.
Israeli air strikes have been limited so far to targeting Hamas operatives and facilities used to launch or support their rocket assaults. Although there have been some unintended Palestinian casualties, they have been kept to a minimum, despite the fact that Hamas insists on hiding its weapons and operatives amongst the civilian population and using Palestinian civilians as human shields. Israel has never declared all Palestinian children to be legitimate targets as Hamas has done with respect to Israeli children. Israel condemned the recent killing of the Palestinian youth Muhammad Abu Khdeir and promptly arrested the alleged right-wing Jewish extremist perpetrators with a vow to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his condolences to the Abu Khdeir family, saying, “We do not differentiate between terrorists, and we will respond to all of them.” In contrast, Hamas’s leaders praised the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers who were murdered. The Palestinian government has yet to show any urgency in finding the perpetrators of the abduction and murder of the three Israeli teenagers.
Despite the unrelenting rocket attacks, Israel has held back so far on any large scale ground operation in Gaza, which, however, may become necessary if Hamas refuses to stop its escalating violence. 40,000 additional reservists have been called up for duty in case it is determined that a ground operation will be needed. Israeli military tanks have reportedly been assembling near the Israeli-Gaza border town Sderot.
As DEBKAFile reported on July 8th:
The government and the IDF have billed the operation as a long-term, staged offensive to destroy Hamas’ logistical and strategic infrastructure, to be escalated stage by stage as needed, up to a limited ground incursion, which would require additional reserve call-ups, as well targeted assassinations. This progression will be adjusted to the enemy’s response and how quickly ‘quiet is restored to the South.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on both sides to exercise “maximum restraint” and avoid further civilian casualties. The rocket attacks should cease, Mr. Ban said, but he spent more space in his statement lamenting the plight of the Palestinians. He said he was “extremely concerned at the dangerous escalation of violence, which has already resulted in multiple Palestinian deaths and injuries as a result of Israeli operations against Gaza."
UN Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has sunk even lower than this in the swamp of moral equivalency. "From a human rights point of view, I utterly condemn these rocket attacks,” she said, “and more especially I condemn Israel's excessive acts of retaliation." (Emphasis added.)
This moral equivalency position is getting very old. Hamas and its fellow jihadists remain primarily responsible for the escalation by continuing their full-scale deliberate rocket assaults against Israeli civilians despite repeated warnings to stop. Palestinian Authority President Abbas’s decision to include Hamas in the Palestine unity government makes him responsible as well for his government partner’s rocket assaults, since he claims to be the president of the entire putative unified state of Palestine that includes Hamas-governed Gaza.
As if Hamas were not bad enough, ISIS (more recently calling itself the Islamic State), which is presently ravaging parts of Syria and Iraq, is reportedly infiltrating Gaza. ISIS shares Hamas’s goal of creating an Islamic caliphate but believes that Hamas is "too moderate" in its approach. As described by the Jerusalem Post last month, unlike Hamas, which is presently focused on ousting the Jewish state from what it claims to be the land belonging to the Palestinian people, “ISIS is a globalized movement that lacks deep roots in any particular society and has no nationalist project.”
However, ISIS and Hamas do share the supremacist ideology of Islam and the jihadist fervor to spread Islam and sharia law by force. In the short run, at least, they will use each other, but in the long run ISIS is even more dangerous than Hamas as it looks to expand its reach from its bases in neighboring Syria and Iraq into Jordan and Egypt, encircling Israel, and beyond. While Israel must do whatever is necessary to keep Hamas under control, it must be careful not to fool itself into thinking that eliminating Hamas alone will mean eliminating an even more dangerous and ruthless jihadist threat that is growing like a cancer on its doorstep.
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