Israel rejected a proposed 48-hour cease-fire Wednesday, after five days of ongoing airstrikes on Gaza. Hamas militants continued to launch rockets into southern Israel. Since fighting began Saturday, at least 370 Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed. Hamas ended a six-month cease-fire in mid-December. (The Washington Post)
What the commentators said
Hamas may have had this coming, said David Grossman in The New York Times, but Israel has made it’s point and should now return to its former “impressive level-headedness” in the face of the Palestinian attacks. A two-day cease-fire would be a good start, and could give Hamas “an honorable way of extricating itself from its own trap.” Even if it doesn’t, “Gaza’s innocent inhabitants” needn’t suffer the consequences.
Why is that Israel’s responsibility? said Seth Freedman in Britain’s The Guardian. “As soon as the six-month cease-fire ended, with Hamas refusing to lay down their weapons and resuming their attacks on Israeli civilians, it was plain that Israel was being invited, if not provoked into, an operation to cut the head off the hydra.”
“It is admittedly impossible to live with daily missile fire,” said Tom Segev in Israel’s Ha’aretz, “even if virtually no place in the world today enjoys a situation of zero terror.” But it’s important to remember that “Hamas is not a terrorist organization holding Gaza residents hostage”—it’s “a religious nationalist movement, and a majority of Gaza residents believe in its path.” Let’s also not forget that “no military operation has ever advanced dialogue with the Palestinians.”
Israel’s military mission is “is aimed against Hamas, not the Palestinian people,” said Akiva Tor in the San Francisco Chronicle. Israel is doing everything in its power “to target the military infrastructure of Hamas and to avoid harming civilians.” And although “this is tragic,” the alternative—“that Hamas prevail and ruin all chances of future peace—would be more tragic.”
But Israel’s attack on Gaza could backfire, said Juan Cole in Informed Comment. “Do the Israelis expect the population at some point to turn against Hamas, blaming it for the blockade and the bombardment?” It seems more likely that, “by destroying what was left of the Gaza middle class,” Israel could drive “people into the arms of Hamas.”