For Israel, a campaign of self-defense


No nation is obliged to allow a neighbor dedicated to its destruction to fire rockets into its territory week after week, month after month, without responding. And yet Hamas, which controls Gaza, was largely responsible for the rocket fire that finally provoked Israel into action after a particularly intolerable month of June.

And so on July 7, the Israel Defense Forces began targeting Hamas leaders, munitions, command and control centers, as well as cross-border tunnels used to smuggle supplies.

That’s not to say the U.S. State Department was necessarily wrong in its blunt criticism of Israel over its shelling Sunday of a United Nations school sheltering civilians in Gaza; "appalled" and "disgraceful" were among the words spokeswoman Jen Psaki used. Every military operation is susceptible to mistakes, and Israel undoubtedly made some during the past few weeks. But it is difficult to avoid civilian casualties when armed militants operate from heavily populated centers, and indeed use civilians as the equivalent of a shield.

Whether the month-long conflict will result in any lasting change is, unfortunately, highly doubtful. The Israel Defense Forces have conducted two previous operations in Gaza in the recent past, one in 2008 and again in 2012, without lasting results. And Israeli military officials acknowledge they failed to destroy all of the enemy’s rockets, with perhaps 3,000 remaining.

Nor has Hamas changed its stripes.

As Jeffrey Goldberg pointed out in The Atlantic, Hamas’ charter remains "a frank and open call for genocide [against Jews], embedded in one of the most thoroughly anti-Semitic documents you’ll read this side of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion."

So even if this round of conflict is all but over, it’s probably safe to assume that it won’t be the last.

~ Denver Post Editorial Board


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