Monday 29 December 2008

A War of No Choice

The inevitable happened, and the IDF finally struck Gaza. The Israeli government was given no choice in the matter, as no responsible government would allow its citizens to be bombarded day after day without acting to protect them. And so Operation "Cast Lead" was initiated by surprise during the course of Saturday in order to finally deal with this ongoing problem.

The name "Cast Lead" is the English equivalent of a term taken from a famous Chanukah song - "My uncle made me a dreidl of cast lead". The significance of the name is that the assault was initiated on the 6th day of Chanukah. It also coincided with the start of the Hebrew month Tevet and with the holy Sabbath day. The response could not wait another day due to the fact that lives were increasingly at risk in the area surrounding the Gaza Strip. And despite the fact that we were left with no choice and the army is willingly waging war to protect Israeli citizens, I believe it would be fair to state that most Israelis would much prefer not to be in this war.

President Shimon Peres was quoted in the press today as being confused as to why Hamas would have decided to attack Israelis. He, of course, has a point. The "occupation", the usual reason given for any terrorist activity aimed against Israel, is no more in Gaza. The unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip was completed more than 3 years ago. So, the occupation can no longer be a valid reason. Instead of establishing a model government and cooperating with its neighbours in the interests of advancing the welfare of its people and nascent nation, Hamas has spent more time and dollars on attacking Israel. There can be no logical explanation except one - the intention to destroy Israel completely. For me, it is astonishing that this objective comes at the expense of all else, especially at the expense of the well being of the citizens that Hamas purports to represent. But this is the reality that Israel faces, and this is the base of the war in Gaza today.

What saddens me, and many of my fellow Israelis, is the suffering of the innocent victims of the war. In particular, I am appalled by the way in which Hamas attempts to use civilians as human shields during a time of war. At best, it prevents attacks on certain targets. Israel, unlike Hamas, does it's utmost to prevent civilian casualties and has been known to call off attacks or redesign them in the interests of limiting casualties. At worst, it provides Hamas with a great front page story when civilians are hurt or killed.

Whilst I am not under any illusions that this war will put an end to Hamas and their terror tactics aimed at destroying Israel, hopefully it will give the residents of southern Israel some much needed peace and quiet for a time. We also pray that it will bring the release of Gilad Shalit who is constantly in our thoughts.

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