For the past three years Israel have found themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Having had 2500 rockets fired by terrorists in the Gaza strip into their country since 2009, the Israelis have had enough.
Today, after an escalation in the violence, Israel’s government announced an extensive program of “direct offensive strikes” against Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorists in Gaza.
As part of this offensive, titled Operation Cloud Pillar, Israel have already killed Ahmed Jabri, the head of Hamas’ military wing. (This has led Hamas to declare Israel have opened the gates of hell.)
There are some important similarities between Jabri and Bin Laden. Both were Muslim extremists who succeeded in murdering, and encouraging others to murder innocent civilians. They also both hated Jews.
Why do I make the comparison? Because here in the UK few people care about the rockets which have been pounding Israel’s towns for over a decade. Sometimes it takes an hard-hitting analogy to wake people up to the reality of the kind of people Israel are up against.
So, to put a different spin on the popular phrase: Israel are stuck between rockets (from Gaza) and a hard place (retaliating against the terrorists).
The question is: Does Israel sit back and risk further casualties? Or does Israel retaliate?
The latter option seems to always result in widespread accusation and condemnation. Just look at what happened in 2009 – the last time Israel sent ground troops in to Gaza.
This ‘hard place’ of retaliation is made even more uncomfortable by the knowledge that such a tactic has rarely worked for the Israelis. Sometimes it works in the short term: Cast Lead stopped rocket fire for a while. But it didn’t bring a permanent end.
‘An eye for an eye’?
I was dismayed to see some people on Twitter excitedly suggesting this latest offensive will bring an end to the violence. How can violence bring peace? It just results in more violence.
Hamas won’t sit back, dismayed and disillusioned after witnessing the death of their head of killing-the-Jews. They’ll re-arm and get ready for all out war – which could begin in a matter of hours.
I don’t blame the Israelis for retaliating. Neither do I blame them for not retaliating until now.
If Israel do nothing, more die from the rockets. If they go after Hamas, civilians will likely be caught in the cross fire. And even if they aren’t – the death – even of a terrorist – should never be celebrated.
Today Israel have untangled themselves from the quandary of choosing either rock(ets) or the hard place. They’ve chosen the hard place. Retaliation.
I don’t judge Israel for standing up for their rights and choosing this option, and neither should the international community.
What will happen in the coming days will be ugly. War and conflict isn’t pleasant, and I refuse to be excited about the prospect.
But when this is what you’ve put up with for years and your friends in the international community either don’t care or can’t offer answers, it’s hard to know what to do: