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Terror from Gaza By: Jamie Weinstein
North Star Writers Group | Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon spoke to his nation the night after Israeli soldiers began removing settlements from the Gaza Strip and implementing their prime minister's historic Disengagement Plan in 2005. 

"The world awaits the Palestinian response – a hand offered in peace or continued terrorist fire," he told his countrymen and the world at large. "To a hand offered in peace, we will respond with an olive branch. But if they choose fire, we will respond with fire, more severe than ever."

This is the context from which the world should view the heinous upswing in terror being perpetrated against Israeli civilians in recent weeks. Memories are fleeting, especially those of journalists and world leaders, but it should not be forgotten that it was just over two-and-a-half years ago that Israel made a historic, painful and bold move for peace. 

Sharon's point that summer night in 2005 was crystal clear: Israel is leaving Gaza, but now Gaza is the responsibility of the Palestinians. If terrorism continued from the territory that was now under their purview, Israel would respond with overwhelming force – and they would have every legal and moral right to do so.  

Since then, the terrorist group Hamas, elected by the Palestinian people, has taken effective control over the Gaza Strip. Proving themselves worthy of the designation "terror group," they have turned Gaza into a terrorist state, launching rocket attacks into Israeli cities on a regular basis. They also recently claimed responsibility for the horrific gunning down of eight religious students, most of them teenagers, in a Jerusalem yeshiva. 

With the likely help of Iran and Syria, Hamas's rockets have increased in sophistication and range, putting an estimated 250,000 Israelis under threat. With hundreds of these rockets being fired into Israeli towns every month, if not every week, residents in cities such as the border town of Sderot live with the fear that these crude and imprecise weapons of terror could at any moment and with very little warning snatch their life or the lives of their loved ones.  

This is terror and this is war. The conflict has been thrust upon Israel by an organization that seeks nothing less than genocide. Read their charter. Hamas not only calls for the destruction of Israel, but the killing of Jews in general. The fact that this insidious organization is weak, and Israel strong, is immaterial in the calculus. Few doubt that if Hamas had the strength and the means of greater destruction, that many more Israeli bodies would be lying in the streets. This being the case, the Israeli government not only has a right, but in fact a moral obligation to its citizens, to neutralize this festering cancer at its border before it grows and increases in lethality.  

In attempting to defend itself against Hamas by destroying its capacity for terror, Israel has unfortunately killed innocent Palestinians. Innocent life lost, no matter Israeli or Palestinian, is tragic. But it should be clear that the moral culpability for such losses does not reside with the Israeli Defense Forces, who carry out their operations in a manner that attempts to protect innocent life to the greatest possible extent, but with Hamas itself, whose careless and cruel disregard for innocent life is well documented.  

Today, in the context of this increased bloodshed, the international community is calling for Israelis and Palestinians to lower tensions. Even the United States, while condemning the attacks against Israel, has urged restraint. But is this the type of response Israel should receive from the world community?  

No, it is not. You get the sense that many countries, in Europe especially, view the current conflict through the lens of the "cycle of violence" mentality. In so adopting this lens, the world community essentially equates Hamas terrorism and Israeli military operations as being one and the same morally. This is, of course, nonsense. To paraphrase the recently departed William F. Buckley: "If a man pushes an old lady into the way of an oncoming train and another man pushes an old lady out of the way of an oncoming train, we shouldn't go around saying that both men push old ladies." He was speaking in the context of America and the Soviet Union in the Cold War, but the same surely applies today in the context of Israel and Hamas.   

The proper response for the international community is to put its support behind Israel, trusting it to act morally and wisely, but encouraging it to do whatever necessary to protect its citizens and strike a blow for the good guys in the global war against Islamic-inspired terrorism.  

No country would tolerate a barrage of rocket attacks from a neighboring territory. And if no country in the world would tolerate such atrocities, no country should expect Israel to do so either.

Jamie Weinstein is a syndicated columnist with North Star Writers Group.

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