Israel Has Declared War on Gaza After a Surprise Attack by Radical Group Hamas
The news from Israel is queasy making, even if you don’t have relatives or acquaintances in the region.
This set of coordinated attacks has been a surprise, but the sad truth is that it is a conflict that is cyclical and persistent over decades. The gut punch by armed-to-the-teeth Hamas forces will only bring a huge counterpunch from the Israeli Defense Force, which, in turn, will be criticized internationally for overreaction in the name of self-defense.
We know that the longer struggle is a conflict born of perceived grievance on one side as against a desire to live in security on the other.
None of that seems to matter very much once the gunfire begins. The important long-term details get lost as there are efforts to repel Hamas guns in Israeli towns a day later. Even the questions about why such a coordinated attack could be planned without knowledge of a usually vigilant Israeli intelligence effort will have to wait.
The danger here is that a Middle East war can in an instant grow into world conflict.
It is beyond troubling seeing armed Gazans filing into Israeli towns spraying gunfire and wantonly kidnapping loads of civilians — women, children and seniors included — as apparent trade bait for the release of their jailed Palestinian fighters. The coordinated attacks may have involved at least 2,500 missiles and various sea and land attacks, breaking through barriers to constitute an invasion, but it is civilians who are targeted.
Likewise, Israelis will continue to retaliate, targeting buildings that house civilians, intentionally or unintentionally, while carrying out extensive military operations. We all fully expect that Hamas will use their kidnap victims as human shields, even as Israel readies for a possible ground invasion that will mean house-to-house fighting.
Ironically, these attacks came even as Israelis and Saudis were working with U.S. encouragement towards an overall peace agreement. There always seem to be alternate plans from a militarized Iran or someone else who wants to resist solution — and will continue to fuel militant efforts against the Israeli state they so despise.
Cycle of Violence and Response
The cycle of violence includes the cycle of world response, which always calls for restraint after the attacks have gotten underway.
In Israel itself, the cause for self-defense will silence the internal dissent over how a right-wing government is running amok over democracy and the rights of Palestinian, and even Israeli Arab citizens. The immediate need to repel Gazan fighters is too great.
As anticipated, U.S. President Joe Biden was quick to reassure Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of support despite personal bristling between them. Biden seems to understand that Middle East problems are multi-sided, and effective solutions are threaded, not forced solely at the point of steel.
But even before the full horrors are known, here were Republicans, led by Donald Trump, leaping onto false accusations — for his own partisan purposes — to insist that Biden was to blame by paying Iranians $6 billion for the release of several American hostages. In fact, none of that money, which was Iran’s held in frozen accounts, has yet been spent — Iran needs to prove that it will go towards humanitarian causes. In any case, split voices are not helpful right now.
We wonder just how much patience isolationist House Republicans — who are insistent that we stop aid to support military response to the equally anti-civilian attacks in Ukraine — will be ready to back Israel.
As expected, the United Nations Security Council will meet in an emergency session and nothing will happen. As expected, Iranians will say they had nothing to do with the conflict even as they ship more missiles and ammunition to Hamas and Hezbollah, which apparently tossed a few rockets of its own before being silenced.
As expected, there is rubble on both sides of the Gaza-Israeli border, and the number of dead and injured is rising fast.
As expected, there is enough disgust to go around as the cycle churns.