Within days of the launch of Israel’s ongoing counter-offensive in the Gaza Strip, following the unprecedented savagery committed by cold-blooded Hamas terrorists in southern Israel on October 7, insistent calls were heard from a variety of quarters about the urgent necessity for a truce to stop the fighting.
“We call on the Palestinian and Israeli sides to immediately accept a ceasefire, renounce violence and show the necessary restraint,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
China urged restraint to end the hostilities, prompting visiting U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to implore “the Chinese people to stand with the Israeli people and condemn these cowardly and vicious attacks.”
Two members of the U.S. Congress, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, who are known to be lukewarm or hostile toward Israel, said, “An immediate ceasefire and deescalation is urgently needed to save lives.”
A pro-Palestinian Canadian outfit, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, said that “true friends of Israel and the Palestinians (should) push for deescalation of the tensions to protect civilians lives above all else.”
Israel should ignore these useless and gratuitous bleats, knowing full well that it is embroiled in a war of national survival and that its citizens expect nothing less than tangible payback for Hamas’ heartless attacks, which have so far claimed the lives of 1,200 Israeli men, women, children and babies, including 260 children and infants, 230 women and 150 soldiers.
In addition, upwards of 150 Israelis were abducted and driven into Gaza as hostages.
Not since Israel’s birth in 1948, the Holocaust or the pogroms of the late 19th and early 20th centuries have so many Jews been butchered in so short a time. These dedicated killers, who behaved like Nazis or Russian pogromists, were eventually killed by Israeli forces.It is estimated that 1,500 were gunned down.
In the early hours of a Saturday morning, heavily-armed Hamas terrorists went house to house in more than two dozen communities near Gaza callously murdering innocent civilians in peaceful communities.
In kibbutzim such as Kfar Azza, Be’eri and Holit, all of which are very close to Gaza, they methodically massacred Jews. Walking through the grounds of Kfar Azza, General Itai Veruv told reporters, “It’s something I never saw in my life. It’s something I used to imagine of my grandmother and my grandfather in Europe and other places.”
According to reports, he told a reporter that the bodies of some 40 babies had been found, some of whom had been beheaded.
In Be’eri, the terrorists killed 108 kibbutzniks. And in Holit, they murdered Hayim Katsman, a peace activist who strove for Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation.
Let’s not mince words. This was a latter-day pogrom perpetrated by well-trained terrorists from an Islamic fundamentalist organization whose malevolent goal is crystal clear — Israel’s destruction.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu correctly compared them to Islamic State barbarians.
In slaughtering unarmed Israelis on such a gruesome level, Hamas was not registering a protest against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank or of its siege of Gaza, from which the Israeli army unilaterally withdrew in 2005.
What Hamas did was to serve notice that Jews are unwelcome in this small patch of land, the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people, and that Israel is an illegitimate entity that has no right to exist.
Hamas’ rampage hammered home the point that, as far as it is concerned, a two-state solution, a vision of a Jewish state and a Palestinian state coexisting side by side, is not only irrelevant, but runs contrary to its ambition of establishing a theocratic Islamic state within the boundaries of historic Palestine.
Unless Hamas’ objectives are clearly understood, the sickening war crimes their murderous foot soldiers committed within about a 12-hour span will make little or no sense to outsiders unfamiliar with the convoluted contours of Israel’s protracted and bloody conflict with the Palestinians.
Having absorbed these horrible blows, Israel has gone into attack mode, relentlessly bombing Hamas sites in Gaza from the air and the sea and preparing for what may be a full-scale ground offensive.
“We are in an operation for our home, a war to ensure our existence, a war that we will win,” said Netanyahu, who declared that Israel will crush Hamas like Western armies obliterated Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
Netanyahu, however, bears responsibility for the shocking and unacceptable intelligence and military lapses and failures that enabled Hamas gunmen to breach the border fence and run rampant virtually unopposed until they were finally stopped dead in their tracks.
Needless to say, Hamas will regret the war it launched against Israel. As Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said, “Gaza will never go back to what it was. Whoever comes to decapitate, murder women, Holocaust survivors, we will eliminate him with all our might, and without compromise.”
Gallant, in the meantime, has imposed a “complete siege” on Gaza, barring the entry of food, water and electricity.
U.S. President Joe Biden struck exactly the right and empathetic note in an impassioned speech in Washington yesterday.
“This is terrorism. But sadly, for the Jewish people, it’s not new,” he said. “This attack has brought to the surface painful memories and the scars left by a millennia of antisemitism and genocide of the Jewish people. Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and self-determination. Its stated purpose is the annihilation of the State of Israel and the murder of the Jewish people.”
And in remark that perfectly aligns with Israel’s legitimate desire for retribution and peace, Biden said, “Like every nation in the world, Israel has the right to respond — indeed has a duty to respond — to these vicious attacks.”
Israel appears to be gearing up for a ground offensive into Gaza, which could be extremely costly for both sides, especially Palestinian civilians and hapless Israeli hostages who, unfortunately, will have to bear the brunt of Hamas’ calculated rampage in Israel.
Yet, given the unimaginable atrocities, Israel has no alternative but to send troops into Gaza to deal with an issue that urgently needs to be addressed. Air power alone will not resolve the problem.
With an invasion looming, Israel has called up 360,000 reservists, some of whom will be sent to the Golan Heights to address the threat from Hezbollah, a Lebanese Iranian proxy which has fired rockets into Mount Dov in the past few days.
Hamas is a disruptive, destabilizing and dangerous force in the region and has been since its founding in 1987 during the first Palestinian uprising. There are no military solutions in a dire situation like this, but the status quo can no longer be tolerated.
Hamas must be uprooted and destroyed, along with its leadership and foot soldiers. That is the bottom line. Nothing less will do.
This is definitely not the time for a ceasefire.