Sowing war

By playing into Hamas's hands, the UN is strengthening the forces it claims to wish to isolate.

security council 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy )
security council 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy )
Here's how UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe described the situation to the Security Council on Tuesday, as summarized on the UN Web site: "The crisis in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel had escalated dramatically since 15 January, due to daily rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli civilian residential areas by several militant groups from Gaza, and regular military attacks by the IDF on and into Gaza. There were also tight Israeli restrictions on crossings into Gaza to end rocket fire. IDF entered the Gaza Strip on 15 January and had been engaged in heavy battle by Hamas militants, including IDF air and tank operations. Hamas claimed responsibility for sniper and rocket attacks against Israel. Since then, more than 150 rocket and mortar attacks had been launched at Israel by militants, injuring 11 Israelis, and a sniper attack killed an Ecuadorian national on a kibbutz. Forty-two Palestinians had been killed and 117 injured by the IDF, which had launched eight ground incursions, 15 air strikes and 10 missiles this past week. Several Palestinian civilians had been killed in ground battles between IDF and militants, and in Israeli air strikes and targeted killing operations." In other words, when the Security Council met to consider the situation in Gaza, it had the basic facts. Each country's representative knew a) Israel was responding to "daily rocket and mortar attacks on civilian residential areas," and b) Hamas "claimed responsibility" for at least some of these attacks, and must be held responsible for the rest. Furthermore, every ambassador representing a non-Muslim state had a similar reaction to that of the British ambassador, who said he "shared Israel's frustration and anger at continued rocket attacks and mortars... Israel had the right to defend itself." Yet these same ambassadors joined their colleagues from Muslim states in condemning Israel for employing "collective punishment" against Palestinians in Gaza. Much of this condemnation was based on a lie propagated by Hamas and repeated at the UN. The South African ambassador claimed, for example, "1.5 million people had been left without water, electricity and basic sewage" in Gaza. In fact, the supply of electricity to Gaza from the Israeli and Egyptian power grids (124 megawatts and 17 megawatts, respectively) has continued uninterrupted. This supply represents about 75 percent of Gaza's electricity needs. The remaining 25% is from a power plant in Gaza that is run by fuel supplied by Israel. Since only some of Gaza's fuel supply was cut by Israel, Hamas could have kept running that plant as well, but chose to shut it down as a propaganda stunt. But the more fundamental problem is that the Security Council chose to meet not on January 15, in response to the major barrage of rockets attacks against Israeli civilians, but on January 22, in response to Hamas's staging of a "humanitarian crisis." The backwards sequencing of the international response serves to vitiate the supposedly balanced statements of the Western ambassadors. Hamas doesn't care about being condemned along with Israel, because it knows these condemnations are lip service. The timing says it all. It is telling that the one country that could have prevented this "cycle of violence" - that is both Hamas's aggression and Israel's measures to defend itself - was not mentioned in the debate. That country was Egypt, which even had the temerity to join the chorus against what it called Israel's "brutal punitive measures." The moment Hamas took over Gaza in June, Egypt could have tightly controlled its border and prevented tons of weaponry, including sophisticated rockets, from entering the Strip. It could have closed the revolving door for terrorists leaving for training and returning to join Hamas's increasingly dangerous army. It did not. Now, as a result of its propaganda victory, Hamas has allowed itself to blow up the Egyptian border fence, while Egypt ignores its signed deals with Israel and does nothing to close or even monitor the border. Among the ordinary Palestinians streaming through to buy cheaper goods on the Egyptian side, we can be sure Hamas is bringing in more weapons, money and terrorists. By playing into Hamas's hands, failing to punish aggression, and refusing to hold Egypt responsible for stopping the weapons buildup, the UN is sowing the seeds of the next war and strengthening the forces it claims to wish to isolate. And it is doing this in the name of peace and humanitarian law - while producing the exact opposite.