By day 25 of Operation Protective Shield there were 63 Fatalities in the IDF and hundreds of wounded, with more than a dozen and a half of our soldiers in life-threatening situations. The cease-fire that went into effect at 08:00 on Friday morning was breached by Hamas shortly thereafter, resulting in the deaths of two soldiers and the possible kidnapping of another soldier. I attended the funeral of another soldier yesterday. And, breaking news: Israel is to unilaterally withdraw its ground troops from Gaza.
Within an hour of the U.S. and U.N. brokered, 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire going into effect yesterday it was breached by Hamas, resulting in the deaths of two Israeli soldiers, the wounding of many more and the kidnapping of 2nd Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, who is believed to have been dragged into a tunnel. It is not known whether Goldin is alive or dead. Over 60 rockets were fired into Israel on Saturday and over 3,000 have been launched by Hamas during Operation Protective Shield.
In the early hours of the afternoon yesterday, P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu talked tough to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, saying that Israel would "take all necessary steps against those who call for our destruction and perpetrate terrorism against our citizens". For his part, Kerry condemned the Hamas cease-fire violation, which he helped to broker, referring to it as "an outrageous violation of the cease-fire negotiated over the past several days, and of the assurances given to the United States and the United Nations".
During the day, Netanyahua spoke with the U.S. Ambassador to Israel and urged the U.S. Administration not to second-guess him again regarding matters relating to Hamas. But, it is doubtful that theU.S. would abide by such a request.
President Obama spoke at a news conference and also condemned the cease-fire violation by Hamas. While it was considerably less than a forceful and persuasive performance, Obama stated: "A cease-fire was one way in which we could stop the killing, to step back and try to resolve some of the underlying issues...Trying to put that back together is going to be challenging, but we will continue to make those efforts...
"I think it's going to be very hard to put a cease-fire back together again if Israel and the international community can't feel confident that Hamas can follow through on a cease-fire commitment." He continued and "unequivocally condemned Hamas and the 'Palestinian' factions responsible for killing two Israeli soldiers and abducting a third almost minutes after a cease-fire has been announced...
"No country can tolerate missiles raining down on its cities ... no country can or would tolerate tunnels being dug under their land." In short, it was necessary to read between the lines of Kerry and Obama to understand what they both needed to express clearly and without political doublespeak - that Hamas lied to everyone and that Israel was justified in pressing on with its military campaign against Hamas.
Realistically, however, the Obama administration, by its pressure on Israel time and again to exercise restraint and to agree to various cease-fires, has encouraged Hamas and its terrorist cohorts in the Muslim Brotherhood. The choices of the U.S.were clear - tacitly support a terrorist agenda in the Middle East, or support the only democracy and real friend of the U.S.in this region.
As long as the U.S.and other countries and organizations think that Israel can do more than it has done to preserve the lives of civilians in Gaza, we will never receive their full support. Some journalists continue to condemn Israel because of the civilian casualties in Gaza, but they do not indicate what more Israel can do, because they don't have an answer to that question. All they want is for Israel to give up and get out of Gaza and, as one excellent columnist points out, not to defend itself at all.
The U.N. continues to condemn Israel. It is not surprising that the U.N. chose to condemn Israel again. It seems that this organization exists almost for the primary purpose of finding some act or omission for which it can accuse Israel. Certainly, this is true of the "Inhuman Rights Council", that goes out of its way to condemn us. But, this latest accusation has got to be the epitome of absurdity.
It condemned Israel for failing to stop our military action to put an end to the rocket attacks upon our civilians, saying that we were "deliberately defying International Law ... in a way that may constitute war crimes." And what was the justification for this accusation? That Israel "refused" to share our Iron Dome anti-missile defense system with the "governing authority" of Gaza!
The "governing authority" is Hamas. Stated differently, the "Inhuman Rights Council" expected that we should supply our enemy with the means to protect them against our own retaliatory measures to their attacks upon us. Either there is a loose screw or two, or ten, somewhere in the machinery of that organisation, or it is simply not playing with a full-deck! The oft-repeated argument of disproportionality was inserted as addition support for the U.N.'s accusation.
Needless to say, our Iron Dome system was designed to protect our populated areas from rocket attacks emanating from Gaza and elsewhere. It was not designed for the benefit of those who attack us. In line with the U.N.'s constant accusations of Israeli wrongdoing, we were condemned for "targeting" U.N.-run schools and hospitals in the Gaza Strip. Somewhere along the line, the fact that rockets were stored and/or fired into Israel from those locations were ignored. So, what else is new?
Latest News:Israel decides to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza. After all the tough talk by Netanyahu, the security cabinet of Israel decided this evening to unilaterally end our ground operation in Gaza.
It is difficult to accept the government's decision, particularly at this point. It has withstood pressure from the political left in Israel, as well as from foreign countries and international organizations. The IDF has suffered over 63 fatalities, in addition to a multitude of wounded, as a result of the Gaza ground offensive.
With the discovery of the Hamas infiltrators, the original focus of the present military operation shifted from restoring quiet and security to the citizens of Israel, particularly in the south, to the discovery and destruction of the terror tunnels. While about 3 dozen tunnels have been destroyed, the greater likelihood is that there are a multitude of tunnels whose locations remain unknown to us. I would pray that I am wrong, but believe that it is only a matter of time before this conclusion is proven to be correct.
Another factor needs to be taken into account, namely, that a decision for a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza imposes no commitments on Hamas - commitments which they would not keep anyway. The goal of Hamas and its affiliate terrorist organizations is the destruction of Israel. Nothing short of that will satisfy them. Accommodation by Hamas, and promises, if made, would be for the sole purpose of deceiving Israel and attempting to lull it into relaxing its guard to give Hamas an opportunity to carry out additional attacks.
During the course of writing this post, P.M. Netanyahu held a press conference announcing that the withdrawal from Gaza relates to the completion of the mission to find and destroy the terror tunnels. Netanyahu stated that Israel would continue pursuing its goals "for as much time as necessary and will exert as much force as needed", until it returns quiet and security to Israel's citizens. There is no doubt that Netanyahu's statements will fall on deaf ears and that Hamas will turn the situation around and accuse Israel of trying to give the impression of victory.
From the perspective of Hamas, its leadership remains intact. Its headquarters have not been harmed. Its fighters have been weakened, but not eliminated. Leaving Hamas in a position of power only strengthens its resolve against us.
The problem is one of perspective: Hamas has invested time, energy and money in its terrorist activities. It is consistent in its resolve to fight against Israel, a fight which it designates as "resistence". It is willing to absorb short-term losses in order to achieve long-term goals. Israel, on the other hand, which has one of the best-trained and highly motivated armies in the world, is willing to achieve short-term objectives, but is not willing to pursue the military action that is needed to achieve a long-term goal - quiet and security that will last for years, not just for a year or two.
This was our failing in the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and may be our failing in the present war. Our primary concern is the loss of life, particularly the lives of our soldiers. This attitude keeps us from pursuing the action necessary to accomplish political and military objectives that will ensure the quiet and security that our citizens need and, indeed, that they demand from our government.
This attitude is wrong. War is a dangerous enterprise and our soldiers fight to protect the country from enemies who seek to kill us. In the process, some soldiers die. They willingly agree to put themselves in harm's way, so that harm does not come to the rest of the country.
Continuing our original objective of restoring quiet and security to the citizens of Israel will mean that we need to continue to destroy the ability of Hamas and other terror groups to launch rockets and mortars against us. If we continue to use the air force and artillery to pursue this goal, it will hamper all humanitarian efforts to rehabilitate Gazaand we will continue to come under international condemnation.
However, those who condemn our efforts at self-defense fail to realize that they are all like Israel. If Islamist terror can succeed against us, it will succeed against them. It is only a matter of time.
Another Funeral - another loss
Yesterday, I attended the funeral of Shay Kushnir, a 20-year-old soldier, who was killed the day before. He was a member of a Messianic Jewish community north ofHaifa. The funeral was conducted in the middle of the day by the military at the military cemetery in that area. People came from near and far, civilians and military personnel alike. It seemed like a few thousand were present.
Unlike the situation of a "lone soldier", Shay has family and friends here and they all turned out. Members of Messianic congregations from north and south were present as well, to pay their last respects to this brother-in-the-Lord. Tears flowed freely by many. The pain of loss was felt by all. Bottles of mineral water were made available in abundance, so no one would suffer from dehydration due to the heat.
One of those who presented eulogies concluded with the statement that Shay was a friend of many and a brother of all of us. "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His godly ones." (Psalm 116:15) In the midst of it all, there was a hope expressed by many in attendance that the grave can't hold us and that this corruption will put on incorruption, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye - and we shall be changed, never again to shed tears or to suffer the pain of loss or sorrow of separation. May Shay's memory be blessed!
And THAT is what is happening in the wind-down of the Gaza War - 2014.
I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the LORD God; so turn and live (Ezekiel 18:32)
For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD, they shall inherit the land (Psalm 37:9)
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Bless, be blessed and be a blessing,