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(photo credit: AP)
While the outside world focuses on "Gaza relief," fretting about Israel's "disproportionate" response to years of Hamas aggression, and treating the inflated civilian casualty figures disseminated by Palestinian authorities as fact, Hamas itself has just signaled it wants to go another round.
Tuesday morning enemy forces crossed our border, detonated a powerful roadside bomb and attacked an IDF patrol near Kissufim. One soldier was killed, another was badly wounded, and several were more lightly hurt.
This is a test. Israel can either respond powerfully, or be satisfied with the kind of tit-for-tat retaliations that preceded Operation Cast Lead. It all depends on whether we consider our border inviolate.
We are tested at an inopportune moment. Elections are upon us and President Barack Obama's envoy is here.
After Israel announced the cease-fire, unknown terrorists shot an Israeli motorist near Ramallah; a mortar barrage struck the Negev; Iranian arms ships kept steaming this way; arms smuggling via tunnels below the Philadelphi Corridor resumed. Hamas continues to loot humanitarian aid, and the Islamists refuse to negotiate sensibly on Gilad Schalit.
What Hamas must do is: stop rearming; stop violating the border and make Israel a reasonable prisoner exchange offer. If Hamas does this, and if a suitable monitoring mechanism can be implemented, the Gaza crossings can be reopened.
But first Hamas must get its second round. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledged that if Hamas persisted in violating the border, the IDF would respond.
Now Israel must do what needs to be done. Not because we want to see Palestinians suffer, but because we want normalcy to return to southern Israel.
Hizbullah is watching. The world is watching. For the sake of quiet, Israel must act.