Hamas's dupes

Perhaps more EU officials should visit Sderot before opening their mouths.

candlelight ramallah 63 (photo credit:)
candlelight ramallah 63
(photo credit: )
Yesterday, External Relations European Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said: "I condemn the rocket fire into Israel and we fully understand Israel's need to defend its citizens." But she also accused Israel of causing "blackouts in parts of Gaza, affecting both homes and hospitals. Closing the crossings will also result in shortages of food, medical and relief items ... I am against this collective punishment of the people of Gaza." It would be nice if the international press and the governments that blindly took their cues from it would take a moment to consider that their Pavlovian embrace of the manufactured "humanitarian crisis" in Gaza could lead, at best, to prolonging the suffering of Gazans and Israelis and, at worst, to full blown war. The reason for this is that anything that reduces the pressure on Hamas to end its unprovoked aggression against Israel will encourage that aggression, with all its associated results. Israel obviously has no interest in causing suffering of any kind in Gaza, and every interest in encouraging Palestinian development, absent the war Hamas is waging against Israel. But Hamas is responsible for the firing of dozens - 50 in one day last week - of missiles at the citizens of Sderot. As a result, Israel has reduced fuel supplies, producing a 25 percent reduction in the electricity availability to Gazans. As Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni explained, "We are maintaining the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. Israel is the only place in the world that supplies electricity to terrorist organizations that launch rockets at it in return. Life for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is not easy because there is terrorism there… Hamas can change the lives of the people in Gaza in an instant, if it ceases terrorism. It knows that, and the Palestinian civilians must understand it as well." A Hamas official warned that the reduction in fuel shipments to Gaza's power plant would cause a health catastrophe. "We have the choice to either cut electricity on babies in the maternity ward or heart surgery patients or stop operating rooms," he said. Well, not exactly. Hamas has the choice of supplying the electricity it has first to hospitals and other essential humanitarian needs. Hamas also has the choice of stopping the Kassam rocket attacks against Israel. Instead, as usual, Hamas's leaders have chosen to deliberately increase the suffering of Palestinians, knowing the international community will cooperate with this cynical choice and blame Israel. Anyone who doubts that Hamas is capable of stopping its aggression should note that the terrorist regime has taken responsibility for rocket attacks, and at times suggested a "cease-fire." There is, moreover, no greater act of "collective punishment" than randomly firing missiles at the homes of innocent civilians. Where is the concern for the "humanitarian crisis" of Israelis who have had to live under the threat of sporadic, and sometimes intense, rocket fire for the last seven years? Power outages and gas shortages are no picnic, but they cannot compare to the deadly and indiscriminate threat from missiles landing on kindergartens and homes. Even if the suffering were comparable, the moral culpability is not. What have the citizens of Sderot done to Gazans or Hamas? How could Israel have withdrawn more completely from Gaza, after uprooting not only every settlement, but also cemeteries and the security strip along the border between Gaza and Egypt? It is one thing for Hamas to have decided to attack Israel without any justification, to the detriment of the people it claims to represent. But why would nations that claim to be concerned for Palestinians, Israelis and for peace chime in to reinforce the transparent ploy by Hamas to blame Israel for having been attacked? Perhaps more European officials should visit Sderot before opening their mouths. Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen did just that, and had this to say: "Hamas is deliberately intensifying the crisis in the Gaza Strip in order to create pressure from the international community on Israel." The international community need not play Hamas's game. If Western officials uniformly blamed Hamas instead of amplifying its propaganda, it might be forced to stop its aggression, ending the "humanitarian crisis." As necessary as Israeli military and non-military measures are, the greatest pressure of all would be if the international community let it be clearly known that it was fed up acting as Hamas's dupes.