Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Why Israel had to carry out such an operation?, by Dimitri Dombret

Source: European Friends of Israel

"To better understand the ongoing situation in the Middle-east, a brief historical overview is necessary.

Since 2001 more than 7000 rockets and mortar shells deliberately targeting civilians have been fired onto Israeli cities neighboring the Gaza strip. This permanent threat to the Israeli population has tremendously changed the lives of thousands of citizens and caused the deaths of dozens while more than 1,000 were wounded.

In September 2005, Israel withdrew completely from the Gaza strip and dismantled all of its settlements.

In January 2006, Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections. Rule over Gaza passed to the Islamist organization government led by Ismael Haniyeh.

June 25, 2006, Gilad Shalit was abducted by the Hamas from Israeli soil – An act of aggression and provocation from Hamas to which Israel refrained from responding.

In June 2007, Hamas during a bloody putsch took control of the Gaza Strip, brutally killing dozens of Fatah members while chasing out the rest.

In June 2008, a 6 month truce negotiated by Egypt was expected to lead to calm, both for the inhabitants of the Negev and for the population of Gaza. This truce was not respected as many rockets and missiles were fired into Israel from Gaza.
Hamas has exploited the six-month ceasefire to smuggle an enormous amounts of weapons through tunnels between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, including Iranian manufactured Grad-type rockets that have a range of up to 40 km. This kind of rocket has hit for the first time a school in Beersheba on December 31. There were no casualties since the school had been evacuated the day before.
After the Israeli withdrawal, the Hamas – with total control over Gaza – could have improved the daily life of the Gaza’s citizens by concentrating its energy on the economic development of the region and ceasing its cross-border attacks. Such a step from the Islamic movement would certainly have convinced the Israeli government and the entire world community that it was capable to change. Then, it’s more likely that the Israeli authorities would have been willing to make a similar withdrawal from the West bank where most of the Palestinians reside which would subsequently lead to the constitution of a Palestinian State.
Israel has tried, unsuccessfully, to send many signals to the Hamas in order it stops its attacks. Israel could more or less get along with a low amount of short range rockets, the constant increase of field of rockets finally left no choice but to intervene against the Hamas. Israel, as every Nation, has the duty to protect its citizens.
It must be clear that not a single responsible Member State would sit back in silence and do nothing as its citizens and territory came under constant attack. They would not lay idle as the alarms in Sderot, Ashkelon, Beersheba and tomorrow possibly Tel-Aviv? - blare "Colour Red, Colour Red", giving Israeli civilians less than 15 seconds to protect themselves before the rocket slams into their lives, their homes, hospitals, kindergartens, schools, and playgrounds.
After 6 months of truce, Hamas decided unilaterally to break it and was not only willing to cease attacks. Instead, it mocked Israel’s inability to counter attacks, explaining that the Jewish State was paralyzed by its domestic politics. Hamas thought that Israel’s will to renew the truce was an acknowledgement of weakness that allowed it to continue firing and acquiring longer range rockets.
The decision to launch Operation 'Cast Lead' was not easy for the Israeli authorities but they managed to carry out an operation that could obviously no longer be postponed.
Yet, Israel has declared that it does not intend to reoccupy Gaza but only to make sure that all the military capacities of Hamas will be dismantled. The aim is to make the operation as short as possible. Unfortunately, Israel cannot allow pressures to freeze its operation as long as Hamas’ aggressions have not been eradicated. Israel cannot allow a return to the previous status quo ante or, worse, a victory for Hamas. This would be a catastrophic scenario which would weaken not only Israel in the long term but would certainly put the Middle-East into an era of unprecedented chaos, strengthening the conviction of Islamist extremists – including Iran – that Israel can be defeated.
As Karel Schwarzenberg, the EU presidency’s Foreign Affairs Minister stated few days ago: "Let us realize one thing: Hamas increased steeply the number of rockets fired at Israel since the ceasefire ended on Dec. 19. That is not acceptable any more".

It is Israel’s interest; it is Palestinian’s interest and the world’s interest to make sure that Hamas – which is on the European terrorist organizations’ black list – will be neutralized."

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(last updated 5 January)

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