Iran and Gaza

Do more Israelis have to die for us to consider imposing non-lethal sanctions on Gaza?

Kassam is jihad  298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Kassam is jihad 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Hamas thinks it can escalate its way to a range of achievements. It already sees Israelis fleeing and attempting to protect themselves from its rockets, and our prime minister saying that there are "no simple solutions" to the problem. It sees that countries like Japan and Norway have not rescinded their announced desire to aid the Hamas government directly, that international aid to the Palestinians still stands at record highs since Hamas's election, and that Fatah - though some of its leaders call for ending the Kassam attacks - remains inside the Hamas-led "unity government." The armed wings of Hamas, Fatah, and Islamic Jihad have all recently issued separate statements claiming that the rocket attacks would continue "until the Zionists flee from Palestine." A commander of one terrorist umbrella group said, "We will make the Jews drip tears of blood. We will never find comfort until we shed the blood of sons of monkeys and pigs." Hamas leaders have reportedly gone into hiding, and we can only hope that they have good reason to take such precautions. We must ensure that Hamas pays a steep price for the massive, unprovoked and continuous attacks on our civilian population. Every avenue must be weighed, including suspending the flow of electricity and water to Gaza. Do more Israelis have to die for us to consider imposing non-lethal sanctions on Gaza? It should go without saying that it is not enough for European foreign policy chief Javier Solana to say, after visiting Sderot, that the ban on direct aid to Hamas will continue. What about the $1.2 billion a year in assistance the Palestinians are receiving, much of it from Europe? One US observer, David Frum, suggested reducing Palestinian aid one million dollars per Kassam. If not, he suggests, "if the world continues a policy of sending money to the Palestinian territories, no matter what the Palestinian government does - Israel, Gaza and the world stand just one well-aimed rocket away from war." Frum is right. Hamas is desperately trying to kill enough Israelis to trigger all-out war. Yet European, and even US aid to the Palestinians remains untouched. Hamas will not take its international ostracization seriously if the Palestinians pay no serious diplomatic price and financial aid continues to pour in. Speaking in Sderot, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said, "The people of Sderot feel that the world is deaf to their suffering. We not only expect that the world understand, but demand that the international community act with determination against the Palestinian Authority with no compromises when it comes to terrorism." Israel needs to spell out what "acting with determination" means, whether in the form of UN Security Council sanctions, further diplomatic isolation, or reductions in financial aid. But we will be doing Hamas a favor if we ignore the wider context of its actions. "Everything is being organized by Iran," Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh told The Jerusalem Post on Monday, "All of the terrorist groups are supported directly by Iran, which pays for all of the military training and the weapons." This is the underlying reality and it should have sweeping policy implications. In its most recent sanctions resolution on Iran, the UN Security Council added a global embargo on Iranian military assistance. Yet the resolution has no enforcement or monitoring mechanism, not even the belated efforts added to gauge and stop smuggling to Hizbullah over the Lebanese-Syrian border in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. There is much that Israel should be urging the international community to do, both to raise the pressure against Hamas directly and on Iran for actively working to spark a new regional conflagration. On May 21, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that Palestinian rocket attacks against Israel are "completely unacceptable and violate international law." We cannot expect the world to come to our side if we do not demand that specific actions be taken to back such words and aid a nation under attack.