January 7, 2009.
Imagine a siren that gives you 30 seconds to find shelter before a Kassam
rocket falls from the sky and explodes, spraying its lethal shrapnel in all
directions. Now imagine this happens day after day, month after month, year
after year. If you can imagine that, you can begin to understand the terror to
which hundreds of thousands of Israelis have been subjected.
Three years ago Israel withdrew from every square inch of Gaza. And
since that withdrawal, our civilians have been targeted by more than 6,000
rockets and mortars fired from Gaza. In the face of this relentless
bombardment, Israel has acted with a restraint that other countries, faced with
a similar threat, would find hard to fathom. Israel’s government has finally
decided to respond.
For this action to succeed, we must first have moral clarity. There is no moral
equivalence between Israel, a democracy which seeks peace and targets the
terrorists, and Hamas, an Iranian-backed terror organization that seeks Israel’s
destruction and targets the innocent.
In launching precision strikes against Hamas rocket launchers, headquarters,
weapons depots, smuggling tunnels and training camps, Israel is trying to
minimize civilian casualties. But Hamas deliberately attacks Israeli civilians and
deliberately hides behind Palestinian civilians — a double war crime. Responsible
governments do their utmost to minimize civilian casualties, but they do not
grant immunity to terrorists who use civilians as human shields.
The international community may occasionally condemn Hamas for putting
Palestinian civilians in harm’s way, but if it ultimately holds Israel responsible
for the casualties that ensue, then Hamas and other terror organizations will
employ this abominable tactic again and again.
The charge that Israel is using disproportionate force is equally baseless. Does
proportionality demand that Israel fire 6,000 rockets indiscriminately back at
Gaza? Does it demand an equal number of casualties on both sides?
Using that logic, one would conclude that the United States employed
disproportionate force against the Germans because 20 times as many Germans
as Americans died in World War II.