June 19, 2024 | The Washington Times

Israel’s long war

A “ceasefire deal” won’t end it
June 19, 2024 | The Washington Times

Israel’s long war

A “ceasefire deal” won’t end it

The Nova Music Festival was billed as a celebration of “Friends, Love, and Infinite Freedom.” On Oct. 6, 2023, attendees from more than two dozen countries gathered in Israel’s Negev Desert just three miles from Hamas-ruled Gaza to sing, dance, and celebrate peace through the night.

At dawn the next day, Hamas terrorists used bulldozers and bombs to break through Israel’s high-tech fence that was thought to secure the border. Arriving at the festival grounds, they began slaughtering, raping, mutilating, and kidnapping concertgoers, exuberantly shouting: “Allahu Akbar!” – “God is greatest!”

On a visit to Israel earlier this month, I wandered through that killing field, now a makeshift memorial. Atop a small forest of poles are pictures of the more than 360 victims, most of them young, and, in these photos, smiling and full of life. Flowers and Israeli flags surround them.

I also toured Be’eri, a nearby kibbutz, a farming community, where the invaders from Gaza gleefully tortured, shot and burned alive men, women, children, toddlers, and babies.

Oct. 7 was the bloodiest day in Israeli history, the worst Jew-killing orgy since the Nazis overran Europe. Within hours, jihadists and their secular allies were blaming Israelis and/or Jews for Hamas’ crimes and atrocities.

Hamas, they insisted, was responding to the Israeli “occupation” – ignoring the plain fact that, in 2005, the Israelis withdrew from Gaza, a territory they’d taken from Egypt in the defensive war of 1967.

Hamas seized full control of the territory in 2007, after waging a brief war to oust the Palestinian Authority.

Hamas then began importing weapons and ammunition – provided mostly by Iran’s rulers – and constructing the expensive and elaborate subterranean fortress in which Yahya Sinwar and other Hamas honchos are believed to be ensconced, presumably surrounded by hostages in chains.

Aboveground, Hamas fighters have blended in with noncombatants serving as human shields.

That this is a key component of Hamas’ warfighting strategy was confirmed by the Wall Street Journal’s publication last week of secret messages Mr. Sinwar has sent to his compatriots outside Gaza. Dead Gazans, he told them, are “necessary sacrifices” in the long war to annihilate Israel and exterminate Israelis.

Israel’s many critics and enemies refuse to recognize this reality. On June 8, Israeli commandos staged a daring broad-daylight rescue of four hostages from two civilian buildings in Nuseirat, a city in central Gaza.

Joseph Borrell, the European Union’s foreign minister, called the operation a “massacre.” How dare Israelis return fire at those trying to kill them as they were extricating their citizens! Indeed, the leader of the Israeli mission was mortally wounded by heavily armed Hamas terrorists.

The Washington Post headlined: “More than 200 Palestinians killed in Israeli hostage raid in Gaza.” The Post is one of many media outlets that parrots whatever numbers Hamas provides without attempting to verify or distinguish civilians from combatants. (Israel’s military estimates about 100 Gazans were killed or wounded, most of them gunmen.)

BBC news anchor Helena Humphrey asked Jonathan Conricus, a former officer in the Israel Defense Forces, whether Gazans should not have been warned of the impending rescue operation. (The BBC has gone beyond parody.)

While the media remains focused on Gaza, there are other fronts in this war. Most significantly, since Oct. 8, Hezbollah, Tehran’s most formidable foreign legion, has been firing rockets and drones from southern Lebanon into northern Israel, the Galilee and the Golan. The attacks have sharply escalated over recent days.

This demonstrates – to anyone with eyes that see – that “ceasefire deals” and “peace agreements” with proxies of Tehran are useless or, worse, lethal traps.

Recall that Hezbollah’s last major war against Israel was in 2006. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 mandated a “full cessation of hostilities” by Israel in exchange for the establishment of a zone from Lebanon’s border with Israel to the Litani River “free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon” and U.N forces. It also called for Hezbollah’s disarmament.

But the 10,000 U.N. troops charged with enforcing the demilitarization of southern Lebanon merely watched as Hezbollah hid thousands of missiles in mosques, hospitals, schools, and homes. And the American-supported Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) has acted as Hezbollah’s auxiliary.

Hezbollah’s attacks have forced more than 60,000 Israelis to abandon their homes, farms, villages and cities. Hezbollah rockets have sparked fires that have consumed thousands of acres of forest.

Another full-blown war with Hezbollah would cause many deaths and much destruction in Israel. As for Lebanon, already a failing state thanks largely to Hezbollah, it might never recover.

But it’s hard to see how the Israelis can long allow a proxy of Tehran to turn regions of their small country into an uninhabitable free-fire zone.

Final note for today: On June 10, the U.N. Security Council passed an American ceasefire proposal for Gaza. Biden administration officials then pleaded for Mr. Sinwar to agree to it.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken observed that Gazans are “suffering every day,” adding – with determined naivety – that if Mr. Sinwar “has their interests at heart, he will come to a conclusion to bring this to a conclusion.”

To what should be nobody’s surprise, Mr. Sinwar rejected the proposal. He expects President Biden to pressure the Israelis to offer more concessions – or end the war as Mr. Biden ended the conflict in Afghanistan: by capitulating.

For now, the Israelis are continuing to battle Hamas in Gaza while preparing for the eventuality of an all-out war against Hezbollah. And, at some point, they will need to attend to unfinished business with the patron of both terrorist groups, the jihadist and genocidal regime in Tehran.

Clifford D. May is founder and president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and a columnist for the Washington Times.

Issues:

Hezbollah International Organizations Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Israel at War Jihadism Lebanon Palestinian Politics