(/sites/default/files/uploads/2014/07/kerry-in-cairo.jpg)Secretary of State John Kerry – who was heard last Sunday on an open mike between Sunday TV appearances disparaging Israel’s efforts to limit civilian casualties in Gaza – arrived in Cairo on July 21st to frantically cobble together an immediate ceasefire. Seeking the help of Egypt and the United Nations, and even the Hamas-friendly countries of Turkey and Qatar, Kerry is looking for some kind of consensus by the major players in the region for a peace-at-any price formula. He is insisting on a premature ceasefire before Israel is able to find and destroy all the tunnels built under Palestinian civilians’ homes, schools and hospitals, which Hamas is using to hide its weapons and as bases from which to sneak its jihadists into Israel for the purpose of abducting or killing its citizens.
“The objective here is to get the fastest possible ceasefire. That doesn’t mean that it’s going to be fast, and it certainly doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, but that’s the goal,” a senior US official travelling with Kerry was quoted by AFP as saying on condition of anonymity.
Kerry is even throwing in additional money for Gaza to help seal the deal. On top of the half a billion dollars that the Obama administration is continuing to send to the Palestinian “unity” government in which Hamas is a partner, Kerry has just offered a $47 million bribe in the form of so-called “humanitarian” aid for Gaza. Some of the $47 million would flow through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). This is the very same agency which found at least twenty Hamas rockets in one of its schools and which is reported to have returned those rockets to the “local authorities.” In Gaza, the “local authorities” are presently the Hamas operatives who govern Gaza. Presumably, UNRWA will be sharing the Kerry-provided windfall with those same “local authorities.”
As usual, while the Obama administration is prepared to reward the Palestinians, it seeks to pressure Israel into agreeing to a short term peace that will simply buy Hamas more time to build up an even greater arsenal of deadly weapons. Before Kerry left on his latest jaunt to Cairo, he was heard on the open mike issuing a not-so-subtle warning to Israel not to try the Obama administration’s patience. “I hope they don’t think that’s an invitation to go do more,” apparently referring to the Obama administration’s rhetorical support for Israel’s right of self-defense. “That better be the warning to them.”
After arriving in Cairo, Kerry acknowledged Israel’s right to defend its citizens from Hamas’s indiscriminate rocket attacks, but then added: “We are deeply concerned about the consequences.”
Those consequences are of Hamas’s own making. It is holding its own people hostage. It has rejected one ceasefire proposal after another, including a ceasefire proposed by Egypt last week that Israel had immediately accepted. Hamas also balked at extending the humanitarian pauses that the UN had brokered in order to enable relief to reach Palestinian civilians in need. Hamas is insisting on entirely unacceptable conditions such as the end of the blockade and opening of border crossings by Israel and Egypt, as well as the release of Hamas operatives from Israeli prisons.
Indeed, Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s top leader in Gaza, offered this chilling promise of more bloodshed: “Gaza has decided to end the blockade by its blood and by its courage.”
More accurately, Hamas and its cohorts have decided to spill the blood of Palestinian children and other civilians whom they regard as pawns in their jihad to destroy the Jewish state – a goal enshrined in its founding charter. Israel is going after the tunnels, rockets and rocket launchers used by Hamas to target Israeli civilians for death. Israel is not trying to kill Palestinian civilians. To the contrary, Israel has repeatedly warned Palestinian civilians for their own safety to leave the areas that Hamas has deliberately chosen to place the entrances to those tunnels as well as the rockets and rocket launchers.
As Israel’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN said to the Security Council on July 22nd:
What other nation supplies millions of tons of humanitarian aid or sets up a field hospital to treat the wounded on the other side even as its enemy fires on it indiscriminately?
What other nation sends messages to warn exactly where it will strike – giving the enemy time to set booby-traps and deploy snipers?
Israel spent four days warning Palestinians in northern Gaza that the military would soon enter their neighborhoods to uproot Hamas. That gave Hamas four days to prepare an assault on our troops.
Every time we drop a leaflet or make a phone call or send a text message warning of an imminent attack, we are endangering our soldiers so that we may keep their children safe.
The Palestinian observer state representative Riyad Mansour did not even try to refute these incontrovertible points in his own statement to the Security Council. Instead, he pushed every emotional button he could, including reading off names and ages and holding up pictures of Palestinian children killed in Gaza in just the last few days. He neglected to mention that the blood of all of these children, shed since Hamas rejected the Egyptian ceasefire proposal last week, is on Hamas’s hands alone.
Yet President Obama is telling Israel that, since in his uniformed view Israel has done enough “significant damage” to Hamas’s military infrastructure, it’s time that Israel stop in its tracks for the sake of the civilians.
Hamas is also scoring a propaganda victory, thanks to the Obama administration’s decision to discourage travel by Americans to Israel. Perhaps fearful of a repeat of the tragic downing of the Malaysian passenger plane over territory controlled by the armed pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine last week, the Federal Aviation Agency is also requiring all U.S. airlines to suspend their flights to Israel. This followed confirmation that at least one Hamas rocket landed near Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport. The FAA notice read:
Due to the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza, all flight operations to/from Ben Gurion International Airport (LLBG) by US operators are prohibited until further advise.
Some European countries are doing likewise.
This is a gift to Hamas, which is now able to brag that it has been able to bring a key portion of Israel’s economy to a virtual halt and effectively isolate Israel from the world air transportation system.
Nevertheless, Israel has little choice but to soldier on until Hamas’s tunnel network and military infrastructure are largely destroyed, whether it takes a week or two as currently estimated by former Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Dr. Ephraim Sneh, or longer. In the meantime, the current blockade and securing of the border crossings against the flow of all but truly humanitarian aid must continue. They cannot be eased so that Kerry can go home with a premature ceasefire in his pocket.
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