Tolerating Hamas Invites a Mideast War
The United Nations ignores 12,000 rockets launched into southern Israel.
By Ron Prosor. Mr. Prosor is Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations.
March 22, 2012
‘War is the unfolding of miscalculations.” So noted historian Barbara Tuchman decades ago, yet this principle continues to fall on deaf ears in the international community. As terrorism in the Gaza Strip increases, threatening to set off instability across the region, the continued roar of rockets into Israel should keep world leaders up at night. But most remain mute and missing in action.
Their choice to stand idle is a grave miscalculation. The consequences for the region could be tragic.
This month, a targeted strike by the Israel Defense Forces canceled the travel plans of arch-terrorist Zuhair al-Qaisi as he headed from Gaza to the Sinai Peninsula. His itinerary included much more than snorkeling in the Red Sea. He aimed to launch another mass murder of innocent Israelis from the Sinai—and undermine the foundation of regional stability by driving a wedge between Israel and Egypt.
In the five days that followed, terrorists in Gaza stepped up their attacks on Israeli cities to 60 rockets per day (up from a years-long average of “only” two to four a day). As these terrorists sought to maximize civilian deaths, Israel worked to minimize them, with a precise and targeted offensive and defensive response.
Israel’s new “Iron Dome” antimissile system intercepted more than 50 rockets over major cities, preventing more than 50 potential tragedies. Israel’s Air Force hit Palestinian rocket squads with minimal civilian casualties, even though they had been intentionally using neighborhoods and schools as launching pads.
The situation in Israel’s south remains as stable as a house of cards. Rockets continue to fly in from Gaza. Despite its spectacular performance, the Iron Dome is still only 90% effective at its best, whereas the terrorists in Gaza remain 100% determined to kill Israeli civilians. The clock is ticking until the next major escalation.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that if rockets fall on your head, you have a right to defend yourself. It’s a simple equation. Calm will return to Gaza when rockets stop falling on Israel. However, one rocket that explodes in the wrong place at the wrong time—in a grocery store, shopping mall or school—and Israel will be forced to respond in a completely different manner.
Time and time again, Israel has warned the world that Gaza is a disaster waiting to happen. Yet, over the past decade, the ratio of rocket attacks to words of condemnation from the United Nations Security Council is 12,000 to zero.
Instead of sending a clear message that terrorism in Gaza is a grave danger, much of the international community continues to point fingers at Israel for its legal and legitimate efforts to stop the flood of arms into the area. Energy that could have been spent preserving stability in the region has been diverted to attacking Israel’s responsible policies aimed at preventing future escalations.
With the Middle East locked in a struggle for a democratic future, a significant escalation in Gaza would tip the scales toward the fundamentalists. From Marrakech to Manama, it would provide cannon fodder for radical clerics and politicians to promote their hateful ideology. The Arab world would be forced to drop its focus on the atrocities of the Assad regime, giving the region’s most cynical eye doctor the opportunity once and for all to blind his people’s vision for freedom.
Iran understands this well. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards are loading Bashar al-Assad’s tanks, funding his government, and training his troops—all while funneling weapons to Hamas and other terrorist proxies in Gaza.
Today, a conflict in Gaza would answer all the prayers of Iran’s leaders, distracting the world as they take their final steps toward nuclear capability. For the Iranian regime, every dead Israeli or Palestinian provides an opportunity to install another centrifuge.
The terrorists in Gaza do not pose a threat only to the citizens of southern Israel. Each rocket is armed with a warhead capable of causing a political earthquake that would extend well beyond Israel’s borders. Our message to the international community is clear: Your silence is pounding the drums of war.