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Upping the Ante

Today Israeli military intelligence reported that the “Grad” missiles that hit the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon over the weekend was confirmed to have been of Iranian origin. The missile made a direct hit on an apartment building in a city that had, until recently, been thought outside the range of Hamas fire. A sixth-floor apartment was completely destroyed.

A few notes:

1. Hamas is an Iranian satellite. People love to confuse this point, mainly because Hamas is made up of Sunni Islamists hell-bent on destroying Israel, rather than Shi’ite Islamists hell-bent on destroying Israel. Yet for all intents and purposes, Hamas is doing whatever it can to replicate the successes of Hizballah by creating a state-within-a-state (or, to be more precise, a state-within-a-not-quite-state) armed and supported by Iran.

2. Hamas has weapons. We don’t know how those Grads got there, but it stands to reason that the ripped-open Egyptian border of a few weeks ago may have helped.

3. It is unclear what kind of fire Israel has to come under before international opinion graces Israel the right to retaliate. Granted, Hamas has less sympathy than did Yasser Arafat when he was running Gaza. But worldwide condemnations of the kind we’ve seen this week, from the EU and UNSC, do little service to democratic states struggling against terror. Nor does equally condemning Israel and Hamas help much. That is, after all, what terrorists thrive on–the presumption of equivalence.

For an interesting take on the Israeli perspective of all this, read my friend Yossi Klein Halevi’s piece in the Los Angeles Times. He writes of an emerging conflict in which Israelis feel much less guilty about the plight of Palestinians than they used to:

Gaza’s people are being held hostage to a political fantasy. And the international community is abetting the tragedy. The U.N. actually considers Palestinians to be permanent refugees, to be protected in squalid but subsidized camps even though they live in their own homeland of Gaza, under their own government.

So long as Gaza refuses to heal itself, Israelis will rightly suspect that the Palestinian goal remains Israel’s destruction. Not even a full withdrawal from the West Bank, they fear, will end the war, any more than the pullout from Gaza stopped the rockets. Israel’s crime isn’t occupying but existing.

And so we move toward the next terrible round of conflict. This time, though, for all our anguish, we will feel a lot less remorse. Because even guilty Israelis realize that, until our neighbors care more about building their state than undermining ours, the misery of Gaza will persist.

Read the whole thing.



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