Reflections on the cease-fire

The cease-fire is not only a victory for the Hamas, it is a significant defeat for Israel, the United States, the European community and anyone else likely to fight jihadi terrorism.

November 28, 2012 22:11
3 minute read.
Hillary Clinton with Egyptian counterpart Amr

US Secretary of State Clinton with Kamel Amr 370 Amr . (photo credit: REUTERS)


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After eight days of pounding each other from the air, a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was declared in Cairo. The streets of Gaza filled with celebrating people, yet 70 percent of Israelis polled have expressed their (often virulent) opposition to the agreement.

Why? Hasn’t Israel pulled off a major accomplishment by getting Islamist Egypt to agree to negotiate and even to guarantee an agreement that commits Hamas to abandon all attacks on Israel? Wasn’t the goal of Operation Pillar of Defense to finally bring some measure of tranquility to Israelis living with range of the Gaza rockets? Wasn’t Hamas taught a lesson by the thousands of pinpoint Israeli airstrikes that killed over 100 Palestinians under arms? Wasn’t avoiding a costly land incursion that would cost many lives and endanger Israel’s diplomatic support sufficient reason to celebrate? The answer to all of these question is “yes, but.”

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Despite all of the above, the cease-fire is not only a victory for the Hamas, it is a significant defeat for Israel, the United States, the European community and anyone else likely to fight jihadi terrorism. It must be kept in mind that Hamas is the leading practitioner of terror in the world today.

Its leadership is made up of sel-fdeclared war criminals who take pride in their success at attacking and murdering unarmed civilians.

For that reason alone, the pass they have just received from Israel and the international community will plague all of us in the not-too-distant future.

Again, there are logical reasons for Israel to have signed off on an agreement that gives Hamas a political victory in the form of Israeli promises to desist from hunting their leaders and to liberalize its policies at the borders of Gaza. Beyond that, however, a great deal of pressure needed to be applied before the Israelis saw the light. The parade of foreign dignitaries that descended on Israel was not only impressive, but suspicious.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the German foreign minister and the secretary-general of the United Nations all came, but what did they do? True, they made public statements supporting Israel’s right to self defense. However, they also demanded (at least implicitly) that Israel stop hunting the mass murderers of Hamas and its allies.

None of them told Israel: “You have not only the right but the obligation to attack the Hamas, capture its leaders and put them on trial for war crimes, release the Palestinians from the burden of a government devoted to mass murder and the summary execution of anyone suspected of collaboration with Israel. Hamas has written itself outside of international law and the international community cannot tolerate its policies or its actions. So, Israel, go for it – we’ll be there for you!”

In other words, as happens time and again, Israel, after many thousands of missiles are fired at innocent Israeli civilians, has been left with the following international doctrine: 1) It is illegal for anyone to attack civilians – unless those civilians are Israeli 2) International law protects Palestinians serving as human shields from attack by the Israeli army. Hence, if Israelis attack Palestinian targets protected by human shields they will be prosecuted under international law. 3) When Palestinians attack Israeli civilians, the very same criminal code is suspended and the watchword is restraint.

At the moment, this new code of international justice excludes Israelis exclusively from protection under international law. History has consistently shown that what starts with Jews and Israelis will soon apply to everyone else.

Today its open season on Israelis, tomorrow, let the world beware.

Yitzhak Sokoloff is a political analyst and educator. Jeffrey Woolf is a Harvard-trained medieval Jewish historian and teaches in the Talmud Department at Bar-Ilan University.

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