No Surrender: Lacking Other Options, Israel Needs to Finish the Job

In June 2006, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., was asked what the Democrats’ plan was for addressing the threat posed by Iran, even then recognized by the international community as the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism. “I really don’t know,” Durbin sighed. “With any luck Israel will take care of it, and then we can all blame Israel.”
The parlor game played in Western capitals of looking privately to Israel to do necessary things and then publicly blaming it for doing so has come recently to mind, as some recite how important it is that Hamas be defeated while criticizing Israel for attempting the difficult job of defeating it. The European Parliament recently voted 500 to 21 in support of a resolution affirming “that the terrorist organization Hamas needs to be eliminated.” Last week the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, told a Bahrain conference “Hamas cannot be in control anymore.”
This, of course, is so obvious that Capt. Obvious himself would be embarrassed to say it.
But here’s the thing: who’s going to eliminate Hamas? Who’s going to ensure that Hamas isn’t in control of Gaza anymore?
The answer is also obvious: it is either going to be Israel or it is going to be nobody. And with all due respect to the pablum-dispensers who go on television to mouth the mantra that “Of course, Israel has the right to defend itself, but…”, Hamas will in fact remain in control of Gaza and will continue to crush Palestinians and murder Israelis unless Israel finishes the job it has started. Going on MSNBC and offering up the meaningless drivel that “Israel is going to have to find a way to eliminate Hamas that doesn’t harm civilians” is the intellectual equivalent of peddling cotton candy, all fluff and no substance.
The political attacks on Israel may be inane, but there is so much inanity that it’s sometimes hard to keep track of it all. One particularly vapid formulation in vogue in recent days and increasingly common among Democratic representatives fearful of being primaried from the Left next year is that there should be a ceasefire and Hamas should be gone from Gaza. It sounds great, and it is also patently ridiculous. How, precisely, is Hamas to be removed if there is a ceasefire?
Answer: It can’t be, and it won’t be. It takes no Einstein to comprehend that a ceasefire is a license to Hamas to reconstitute, as it has before, to continue repressing Palestinians and to continue murdering Israelis. So, you can have a ceasefire, or you can remove Hamas, but you can’t have both, and those calling for both do a very fine job of looking witless.
Then there’s the line that Israel should back down because otherwise it will generate “more hate.” Really? On Oct. 7 Hamas sent 3,000 murderers into Israel and slaughtered 1,200 Israeli innocents, gleefully decapitating, dismembering, burning, mutilating, shredding and raping human beings while kidnapping 240 others and bringing them back into Gaza.
There, Gazans paraded disfigured Israeli bodies around the street and jubilantly celebrated en masse. Is the argument that if Israel tries to prevent this from recurring, it may make Gazans hateful?
That leaves the argument that “the number of civilian deaths is unacceptable.” But what exactly does that mean? Every civilian death is “unacceptable.” No civilian death is “acceptable.” But where Hamas purposefully operates from sophisticated tunnels underneath hospitals, mosques, apartments and schools, and from within those structures, there simply is no way of attacking Hamas without killing civilians, no matter how careful Israel is — because that, giving its middle finger to the civilized world, is how Hamas functions. If Israel’s critics have some magic method of eliminating Hamas, or even protecting Israelis from another mass slaughter, without harming civilians, those critics should by all means share their wisdom with the Israel Defense Forces posthaste.
In the meantime, a ceasefire with Hamas means capitulation to Hamas. Which means that Israeli has no other choice but to finish the job it has started.
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