Predictably, once Israel decides to defend itself, the self-righteous call for an immediate ceasefire. From British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to the Pope. Of course, all statements strive to be even handed–Israel must stop, Hamas must stop.
The problem is that Israel started because Hamas would not stop and will not stop short of succumbing to force. That is the hard truth the West can never confront – that the way of Hamas, as is the case with all other Islamist organizations, is not one where dialogue and reasonableness can yield results.
Hamas has had over a year since it seized power in a blood stained coup in June 2007 to establish its authority and prove its credentials. That was enough time for the engagement theory to be tested – a theory which states that once in power, even hardcore ideologues like Hamas will bend their beliefs under the weight of reality and necessity. Clearly, Hamas’s choice to go to war with Israel when reason – and hardnosed realism – suggested to do the opposite should be enough to put the argument to rest and rally support for Israel’s actions. After all, Israel did all it could – and then some – to avoid this confrontation. It has tolerated months of intolerable rocket launches against its population in the South. It has supplied Gaza with food, medical supplies and electricity. It has appealed to the international community to help solve the crisis. It has relied on Egyptian mediation. It has offered hundreds of prisoners to Hamas in exchange for one captive, Gilad Shalit, to whom Hamas has denied the most elementary rights (which Israel grants Hamas prisoners under international law). What did it get in return? It got war.
The only logical course of action for Israel – as it would be for any other country under a similar threat – is to fight back. Calling for a ceasefire under the present conditions is nothing but a call for Israel to surrender to the blackmail of Hamas.