This story appears in the August 18, 2014 issue of Forbes.
There are two things the U.S. should do about the widening war in Gaza.
First, stop the mindless calls for a cease-fire. Like Pavlovian dogs, Washington officials always push for a cessation of hostilities whenever violence flares between Israel and Palestinian forces. This is supposed to show “evenhandedness” and to set the stage for yet another “peace initiative.” Why can’t Washington face facts?
(ABOVE PHOTO: Boy with a Qassam rocket, in Sderot, Israel. Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hamas wanted this war. It had dissed all of its Mideast patrons. Isolated, it figured a big conflict would change the political calculus, refurbishing its credentials as a major force and pressuring other states to pony up more money. That’s why it summarily rejected Egyptian attempts to arrange a cease-fire–for which the Israelis were game, wanting to avoid, if possible, waging a bloody ground campaign in Gaza. But Hamas needed war. For Washington to treat both parties as morally equivalent is repugnant. Hamas is using civilians as human shields and murderous fodder for propaganda images, hence its attempts to prevent civilians from evacuating areas that Jerusalem has warned will be hit militarily.
The U.S. should remember that since Israel totally and unconditionally withdrew from Gaza in 2005 the territory has used the billions of dollars it’s received in foreign assistance not to build its economy but to wage war. Its system of tunnels through which it attacks Israel (and until a year ago received weaponry and supplies from Egypt) is elaborate. Its arsenal of rockets–and their sophistication–has expanded exponentially.
The FAA decision to ban (for a day and a half) U.S. commercial flights to Israel, where tourism is a big part of the economy, handed Hamas its first political victory. Under the circumstances, a now physically isolated Israel must totally destroy Hamas’ military capabilities: no more tunnels, no more caches of rockets. To do less would only make Jerusalem’s increasingly dangerous security situation worse. John Kerry should pack his bags and stay away from the region, and President Obama should cease indulging his anti-Israeli predilections and let Jerusalem do what has to be done.