There are limits of what military might can accomplish.
It''s a lesson well known to Americans as well as Israelis.
Israel can kill a million Gazans, but if there are a few thousand Muslim fanatics among those left it won''t matter. Fanatics elsewhere will do what they can to provide them with money, political support, munitions or whatever else it takes to keep them going.
The truth of the matter is that Israel cannot kill a million Gazans. Our own norms won''t permit it. And the humane know nothings of the world, with their bases in the US, Western Europe, and the UN will wage their own kind of political and economic terror against Israel over many fewer deaths.
Israel''s humane adversaries act as if war should operate in a manner to target only opposing fighters. Should they fire or store their weapons from neighborhoods, schools, hospitals, and mosques, then one''s own soldiers must either desist, or risk their lives to grab enemy fighters without harming anyone else, or the homes, schools, hospitals, and mosques sheltering the fighters.
Nothing in the personal histories of Ban Ki Moon or Barack Obama reflect any combat experience, much less any in congested urban areas.
So what to do?
Something close to what Israel has been doing.
- Giving the sources of terror enough opportunity to demonstrate their evil to provide ample justification for a military response. Note that Israel waited six or two hours (depending on one''s calculation) beyond the end of the cease fire and the onset of Gazan missiles before responding.
- The IDF should provide a general warning, that any civilians near Hamas'' military activities will be risking their lives and property.
- The military response should target, primarily, the fighters, their weapons, and their leaders.
- In light of Israel''s warnings, any collateral damage will be the responsibility of Hamas.
- The IDF must continue to train its officers and soldiers in the rules of appropriate combat in congested areas, the essence of which is to aim at fighters, those leading them, and their equipment.
- Israel''s political leadership must try to persuade those who will listen about the evil of those who exploit civilians as military assets, and justify the activities that the IDF pursues.
- Israel''s primary concern is to protect its own civilians from the evil. At a much lower ranking and secondary concern is to protect the civilians of Gaza who are being exploited by their leaders.
- Due to its own norms and international expectations, Israel may have to assume responsibility for providing basic supplies of electricity, food and medical supplies to Gaza. Possibilities of acquiring other consumer goods, or the right to travel internationally is beyond Israel''s responsibility, and depends on Gaza''s own regime ratcheting down from its evil intentions and making the appropriate accommodations.
- Israel''s political apparatus must be prepared to struggle with the allegations from local and international guardians of what they consider to be humane standards of conduct, and to ignore those who cannot be convinced by Israel''s reasonable efforts.
- Important in Israel''s aims is doing what is necessary to stop attacks on its civilians, and to assure that Hamas will be unable to re-arm and reconstruct tunnels and other facilities in order to support yet another round of violence.
The sum total of the above will not be pretty and will have costs. It will not solve Israel''s problems, but should enlist on Israel''s side the civilized of the world, who are capable of recognizing evil where it exists, and that protecting oneself from it may involve the sacrifice of civilians exploited by those who are evil.
It is difficult to read what happened with the end of the cease fire on Friday. Neither side invoked anything close to the force it was threatening. Perhaps it was the kind of theater recognized without an agreement, where Hamas and its allies are allowed to blow off steam or beat their breasts, without endangering any great destruction.
It''s an odd place this corner of the Middle East, where the rules of the game are vague, poorly understood, usually work, but occasionally turn quickly to something much different.
As Israeli politics appears at the present time, the intensity of the south against any occasional shelling from Gaza may force the government to insist on a hard line in any negotiations that occur. Or lead the government to test the tolerance of western governments with a continued onslaught against Gaza until the level of quiet becomes acceptable.
The ultimate frustration lies in the lack of success likely. No matter how many fighters die among those causing the evil, along with all the collateral damage that is conceivable, the evil will remain.
Those who doubt it need only look at ISIS, al-Qaida, Boko Haram, along with Hamas and the various Jihadist movements active among Palestinians. Muslim fanatics willing and even desirous of dying for their cause are the scourge of our time. Hamas'' exploitation of children and other civilians to protect their fighters is at the same level of barbarism as the killing of captives, the slaughter of Christians, and the sex enslavement of young girls by other fanatics.
Those of us who are both civilized and realistic must count on spending considerable resources and not a few of our own lives in order to protect ourselves from such barbarism.
Comments by Ban-Ki Moon, Barack Obama, and other western leaders, produce a feeling among Israelis of living in a ghetto, hemmed in by unrealistic expectations about the humane way in which we must fight those intent on destroying us.
Constant criticism and threats of formal condemnation, backed up by the possibility of sanctions, provokes thoughts of Jews in times past, living at the sufferance of those who exploit us for what we can provide to them, and willing to see us destroyed at the pleasure of the mob.
Our principal defense from living in such misery is our own government, its capacity to explain our condition to those who will listen, and the capacity of our security forces to protect us.
Only time will tell if that is enough to keep us from the spread of the Dark Ages, with Islamic fanatics on our borders and the borders of other places.