Israel: On the brink of war in Gaza
Is Israel trying to start another war? asked the Jerusalem-based Al-Quds in an editorial. Its botched operation in Hamas-run Gaza this week left at least seven Palestinians dead as well as one Israeli officer. Israel claimed the raid was a routine intelligence mission, but Hamas said undercover Israeli commandos had driven 2 miles into the Gaza Strip in a civilian car and killed a Hamas commander, sparking a firefight. The Israelis then called in airstrikes to cover their retreat. In retaliation, Palestinian militants shot some 400 rockets into Israeli communities over the border, killing at least one person and seriously wounding several more. Israeli aircraft pounded targets in Gaza—a Hamas TV station, an office building, and more—killing at least six. It’s the worst exchange of fire since 2014, and it is entirely Israel’s fault. Israel’s hostile incursion “reiterates to Hamas and the resistance as well as to the entire world that the occupation does not abide by agreements.” The reckless act triggered an escalation “that could lead to a new war.”
That’s unlikely, said Zvi Bar’el in Ha’aretz. Before the raid, Israel, Hamas, Egypt, and Qatar had been “on the verge of working out the details of an agreement” that could “revive the economic situation in Gaza and Hamas’ political power within it.” Hamas won’t jeopardize that. As part of the nascent deal, Israel last week allowed in shipments of fuel for Gaza’s power plant and $15 million in Qatari-donated cash so that Hamas could finally pay thousands of its civil servants. Why did Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu allow that payment? asked Arieh Eldad in Ma’ariv. Hamas, which continues to launch incendiary kites and balloons that set Israeli fields ablaze, was “on the ropes” in Gaza, with its oppressed population “on the verge of rebellion” against it. Then Netanyahu came to the rescue with “suitcases of dollars.” Israel is now effectively “paying protection fees to a terrorist organization.” And for what? To see our villages battered by rocket fire?
There is real suffering in Gaza, said Shmuley Boteach in The Jerusalem Post. The territory’s people lack medicine, power, and even water, because the “bloodthirsty terrorists” of Hamas have “driven Gaza into the ground.” For Qatar—the world’s richest per-capita nation and Hamas’ staunchest ally—to give money with no strings attached, no demand that Hamas reform or disarm, will only “fortify the root of all Gaza’s perils: the heartless, child-sacrificing death cult that is Hamas.” Face it, there are now only two feasible options in Gaza, said Yoaz Hendel in Yedioth Ahronoth. Either we launch an “internationally funded Marshall Plan in the Gaza Strip” that will rebuild the territory without giving money to Hamas, or we go in and obliterate Hamas’ military capabilities once and for all. Given that no world leaders are backing the first option, it’s time for the second. “Let the Israeli Defense Forces win.” ■