Thursday, February 28, 2008

Silence Over Sderot

New York Sun Staff Editorial
February 27, 2008

It's hard to describe as anything but shocking the silence over Sderot. There have been a few eloquent columnists writing about the spectacle of the Palestinian Arabs shelling Israeli civilians, nearly every day for years; they've included Richard Cohen, Bret Stephens, and our own Hillel Halkin. There was an important protest in New York, where red balloons symbolized the thousands of rockets that have hit Sderot, which, since this shelling aimed at civilians has started, has suffered a dozen deaths and many more wounded. Those statistics tell only half the story — an entire city, an entire region of Israel within five kilometers of the Gaza strip border, are now vulnerable to rocket attack. There is constant terror in the sky.
The Israeli reaction has been constrained by the expectation of international rebuke. The European Union did not wait for a full scale ground intervention by Israeli forces. The parliament at Strasbourg last week called on the Jewish State "to cease military actions killing and endangering civilians, and extrajudicial targeted killings." Strasbourg did criticize Hamas, both on the grounds of its "illegal takeover of the Gaza Strip" and its failure "to prevent the firing of rockets by Palestinian militias from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory." But for the Europeans, it's as if Hamas were merely failing to prevent rather than encouraging the attacks by its own members and other terror groups.

Strasbourg went further, declaring "that the policy of isolation of the Gaza Strip has failed." But the European Union parliament put the onus on Israel for the "humanitarian crisis" in Gaza, calling on the Jewish state to put "an end to the blockade and [allow] … a controlled re-opening of the crossings in and out of Gaza." Not even a mention of the original reason the crossings were closed: the danger that suicide bombers would slip through along with fruits and vegetables bound for the West Bank and Jordan and laborers bound for Tel Aviv.

The E.U. called for limitations on Israeli defense measures, declaring that in Gaza the civilian population "should be exempt from any military action and any collective punishment." On top of all this, the E.U. Parliament called on Israel "to fulfill its international obligations, as an occupying power, in the Gaza Strip." An occupying power? Israel bowed two years ago to international pressure and withdrew entirely from the Gaza district. It isn't occupying Gaza at all. George Orwell's estate should be demanding royalties.

All this catches America asleep at the wheel, dreaming of a peace process that has no traction and with one major party committing itself to the rapid withdrawal of troops from Iraq beginning in January. During the fighting in Lebanon in the summer of 2006, the Bush administration gamely held off the forces urging an immediate cease fire in Lebanon in the hope that Israel would inflict a blow to Hezbollah from which Hezbollah would not recover. If Israel makes its move in the spring — after the rains — will the Bush administration, or more correctly the thinned out forces of those in the administration who steered the course in 2006, be able to give Israel the time needed to bring an end to the rocketing from the territory controlled by Hamas?

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