The primary purpose of Operation Pillar of Defense is to restore Israel’s
deterrent capability. The message to Hamas, to the world, and ultimately to
ourselves is that terrorist groups can no longer attack us with impunity. The
constant firing of thousands of rockets and mortar shells at southern Israel
from the Gaza Strip over the past 11 years must finally come to a
It was no coincidence that the IDF chose the biblical term Amud
Anan for the military operation that began on Wednesday with the targeted
killing of Ahmed Jabari, the arch-terrorist who served as Hamas’s military
It literally means “Pillar of Cloud,” but the army called it
“Pillar of Defense” in English to convey the notion that Israel is simply
exercising its right of self-defense.
A pillar of cloud served as a divine
daytime compass for the Children of Israel during their exodus from
At night, a pillar of fire provided them with
Jabari’s rocket crews, bombers, gunmen and kidnappers have left
thousands of clouds of smoke in Israel over the years. The toll and trauma they
have caused are immeasurable.
But today, when the Israel Air Force hits a
terrorist target in Gaza or the Iron Dome defense system intercepts a rocket,
all that remains is a pillar of cloud.
Rather than Hamas’s signature, it
has become the IDF’s.
This is the time for Israelis to rally together
behind our true pillar of strength – the IDF – with the support of our many
friends around the globe.
It is a time to help the residents of the South
under attack, and urge them to stay in sheltered rooms.
It is a time to
sympathize with the families and friends of those who have been killed or
wounded in rocket attacks.
It is a time to pray for the brave men and
women in uniform fighting for Israel.
It is a time to put politics aside,
and to stand together proudly as one nation.
And it is payback time for
the Gaza terrorists who have been firing indiscriminately at southern
As the famous line from Ecclesiastes goes, there is “a time for
war and a time for peace.” And this, unfortunately, is a time for
More than a million Israelis living in the South have suffered from
rocket and mortar attacks for too long. The government has been patient for too
long, hoping beyond hope that the fire would stop, and repeatedly offering Hamas
“quiet for quiet.”
But this policy was not effective, and the firing
continued unabated, escalating to 170 rockets in the few days before the current
offensive. It was only a matter of time before Israel’s luck ran out, and the
rockets exacted a fatal price.
The time had come to hit back, and hit
back hard. This, after all, is the Middle East, where the lingua franca is
The Arab world, led by Egypt, is charging Israel with war
crimes. Yet it is Hamas, which has launched rocket attacks from civilian areas
in Gaza and targeted civilians in Israel, that is doubly guilty of war
It is sadly ironic that Iran, the world’s prime sponsor of
terror, and Syria, whose regime is massacring its own people, have condemned
Israel for its “terrorism” and “barbarism” against the Palestinians in
Israel, for the record, has been as careful as it can to carry out
accurate air strikes against terrorists and to avoid civilian
When the US assassinated Osama bin Laden, the world
applauded. When Iraq executed Saddam Hussein and Libyan rebels killed Muammar
Gaddafi, no one shed a tear. But the IDF’s pinpoint strike of Ahmed Jabari has
been reported by the world’s media as if Israel is the bad guy.
columnist Melanie Phillips wrote, “Rocket attacks on Israelis are not news;
Israeli military action to defend Israel against such attacks
Suddenly, media indifference has been transformed into media
And in the eyes of the British media and Foreign Office,
Israel is at fault; astoundingly, it is apparently Israel which is responsible
for inflaming the situation, not the Palestinians.”
community, of course, issued its traditional appeals to both sides to prevent a
further escalation of the violence. Drawing an unjustified moral equivalence
between Hamas terrorist attacks and Israel’s killing of a Hamas terror chief, UN
chief Ban Ki-moon voiced concern over “the alarming escalation of indiscriminate
rocket fire from Gaza into Israel and the targeted killing by Israel of a Hamas
military operative in Gaza.”
The US and several of Israel’s allies
balanced their support for its right of self-defense by also calling for
They forget how restrained Israel has been. What other country
would have gritted its teeth for so long? The response from the Carter Center in
Atlanta was particularly unsympathetic.
“Both sides should cease all
hostilities,” declared former US president Jimmy Carter. “Israel should end its
blockade of Gaza, and Western countries should work to facilitate reconciliation
between Hamas and their Palestinian rival, Fatah. As long as Gaza remains
isolated, the situation in and around Gaza will remain volatile.”
the few sympathetic voices among world leaders was John Baird, the Canadian
foreign minister, who stated clearly that “Canada condemns the Hamas terrorist
organization and stands at Israel’s side.”
“We believe that Israel has
the right to protect itself and its citizens from terrorist threats. Too often,
the Jewish people finds itself on the front line of the war on terror,” Baird
In this regard, the statement put out by the Conference of
Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations is particularly
“The international community must speak up forcefully and
stand by Israel’s right to defend itself and protect its citizens,” it urged.
“Israel is on the front lines of the war on terrorism, but it is a threat faced
by the entire world.”
It is a message the world might bear in mind when
the clouds lift and history passes judgment on Operation Pillar of Defense.