Monday, March 12, 2012

At the mercy of terrorists

At the mercy of terrorists

Dr. Haim Shine

The lives of the residents of southern Israel were interrupted over the weekend. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis were again closed up in bomb shelters and basements. Alarms and sirens interrupted the end of Purim and Shabbat celebrations. Dozens upon dozens of rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel. Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beersheba and Kiryat Gat: it was a miracle that no one was killed. But a country cannot rely on miracles alone.

Hamas has missiles that can reach Rishon Lezion and Tel Aviv. The decision whether to deploy their long-range missiles depends on them.

The state of Israel is at the mercy of terrorists: Hamas in the south and Hezbollah in the north. Terrorist groups can disrupt Israeli life at any given moment. Murderers are operating from within civilian areas to shield themselves, and are not accountable to any international organization, norm or law. Hamas and Hezbollah are activated by Iranian remote control, using strategic weapons in the battle against Israel. The overall campaign also includes preparation for nuclear warfare. Within this tangle we also have Syria, with its large arsenal of chemical weapons and a dying regime likely to put it to use.

The escalation in Gaza is an expression of Arab (mistakenly called Palestinian) despair. This escalation is not a reprisal for the assassination of a senior rocket specialist. The source of the despair is Israel’s success in pushing the Palestinian issue to the sidelines of world attention. Everyone is focused now on Iran and Syria. To relieve the pressure on Iran and Syria, and return world attention to the Palestinian matter, the people in Gaza decided to let loose another round of aggressive attacks against Israel.

Based on the results of previous rounds, it is reasonable to assume that within a few hours or days, through an Egyptian or internationally mediated truce, quiet will return to the south. This calm, however, will last just weeks or months, until the next round.

Israel cannot afford a reality in which millions of its citizens live as hostages. Israel’s defense concept is based on the Iron Dome, fortifications and, from time to time, targeted assassinations, which are not effective in the long run. Our enemies’ missile launching capabilities are improving and we can be certain that in the near future, God forbid, there will be fatalities.

It has already been proven clearly that the only language understood in the Middle East is the language of force. Verbal explanations and rational persuasions have never helped. Delaying the use of force only complicates the situation in the future. Israel might be surprised one day by a huge barrage of missiles in the north and the south simultaneously.

Israel has every justification, and the ability, to stop the shooting from the south. No country in the world would agree to having an enormous arsenal accumulated on its border without responding. In the hostile international reality, there will never be a convenient time to execute an operation that would eliminate the threat from the south. Out of responsibility for its citizens’ security, we must make the difficult decision to, once and for all, eliminate the terrorist reign in Gaza. There is no need to reoccupy Gaza for many years to do this.