At first hearing, some Israelis took heart from the fact that players like the UN Secretary General and EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton at all denounced the missile barrages from Gaza. But the devil is in the further details. It’s instructive to pay heed to the entirety of their messages.
Thus Ban Ki-moon, according to a statement released by his spokesman in NY, “condemns the recent multiple rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza. These indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas must stop.” But then comes the clincher: “The Secretary-General is extremely concerned at the dangerous escalation of violence, which has already resulted in multiple Palestinian deaths and injuries as a result of Israeli operations against Gaza.”
It’s noteworthy that Ban mentioned only Islamic Jihad as the wrongdoer and not Hamas, which has gallingly gained respectability from the unity pact struck with Ramallah’s Mahmoud Abbas.
The identical singular focus on Islamic Jihad is evident of Ashton’s statement. Ashton, who was remarkably unperturbed by persistent rocket fire on Israel’s south from Gaza, woke up only after Israel was forced to respond.
Ashton “strongly condemned” the Gazan rocketing of Israel “for which the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which is listed by the EU as a terrorist organization, has claimed responsibility.” Hamas isn’t in the picture and its seeming absence appears to absolve it of culpability.
Her statement then continued: “The EU deplores the growing number of civilian casualties, reportedly among them children, caused by Israeli retaliatory fire. The safety and security of all civilians must be of paramount importance.”
Both Ban and Ashton – and others as well – appear to have conveniently lost sight of cause and effect.
They express distaste for the Gazan barrages but it’s almost like lip service that allows them to then draw false equivalence between the Israeli response and the rain of rockets from Gaza which triggered the crisis. This is the nuance prevalent in comments from a plethora of foreign leaders who rushed to cheer the Hamas-Fatah coalition recently.
The subtext is clear. As Israel continues to defend its civilians, it will be increasingly taken to task for civilian losses among those who attacked it without provocation – while Israel, in fact, continues to supply them with food, medications and, most meaningfully, electricity from the very power plant they unremittingly rocket.
Herein lies the vital distinction between Israel and its implacable foes. They seek to wreak havoc and cause as much civilian death and destruction as they can. There was public celebration in Ramallah and Jenin as rockets were fired into central Israel.
Israel seeks to make its strikes as pinpointed as possible. What military sends out warnings by SMS, phone and leaflets to civilians to evacuate projected targets? This doubtless hampers the effectiveness of Israel’s strikes, yet Israel still takes inconceivable risks to spare enemy civilians.
That said, in many cases Hamas deliberately counters these warnings by congregating civilians on roofs of buildings Israel is about to hit. The idea is to deter Israel with human shields.
This means that our enemies recognize Israeli soft-heartedness and count on our humanity to spare their civilians, so that they thereby are given a free hand to launch rockets at our civilians or to deploy infiltrators to massacre Israelis on the ground.
Anyone who ignores this turns a blind eye to outright malevolence.
In a situation where deadly terrorist kingpins hide behind their human shields, it boils down to them or us. If the human shields are granted immunity, it will be at the cost of Israeli lives. There’s no getting around this underlying reality of the dirty Hamas war.
When the Arab world and the oft-biased choir of international pontificators disregard this, they in effect announce that they care less about Israelis than they do about those who deliberately and repeatedly attack Israeli civilians.
Disingenuous demands for artificial proportionality are nothing less than clamoring for Israel to cease protecting its citizens.