Published by: NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Jul 24, 2014 at 4:30 am
Enough is enough. We cannot let history keep repeating itself.
For the third time in five years, Israel is being forced to combat a barrage of rockets from the terrorist group Hamas. In 2009, Hamas fired an onslaught on our people, but we tempered their efforts and agreed to a ceasefire. Hamas later broke it.
Israel withstood Hamas’ unprovoked rocket barrage again in 2012 and agreed to another ceasefire. But Hamas broke that agreement, too, and launched another assault on our civilians.
While Israel accepts these ceasefires, Hamas has dedicated these periods to restocking, retooling and amplifying their weapons capabilities, as we have now seen again with this latest Hamas offensive.
Today, Israel’s response must ensure the dismantling of Hamas’ megastructure of terror.
Since the last large-scale terror campaign by Hamas in 2012, Hamas has nearly doubled its stockpile of rockets, possessing no less than 12,000 rockets today. From Gaza, Hamas can now fire rockets with a range of 100 miles, which has put millions of Israelis in cities like Haifa, Tel Aviv, Eilat and even our capital, Jerusalem, under the direct threat of terror.
This was not the case just two years ago.
With more than 2,000 rockets launched at Israeli civilians in the past few weeks, Israel would have suffered severe losses of life were it not for our Iron Dome missile defense technology, which has kept most of our people safe. We cannot let millions of civilians continue to live in fear of Hamas’ rocket bombardment, nor can we tolerate the sounds of red alert sirens forcing us into bomb shelters on a daily or even hourly basis.
Israel cannot afford Hamas the opportunity to initiate another war in 2015 or 2016. By then, Hamas could have an even deeper arsenal, and the cost of another war in lives lost on both sides could be even greater.
What Israel hopes to achieve by expanding Operation Protective Edge is the maximum disarmament of this terrorist group. To achieve that, Israel is targeting not only Hamas’ vast rocket supplies, but an underground network of tunnels that has already been responsible for far too many Israeli deaths and kidnappings.
These tunnels are not simple dirt holes, but rather a network of hundreds of complex, concrete- enforced structures, some of which extend a mile long and six stories deep. This underground terror hub, which was purposely constructed beneath hospitals, mosques and schools, is a concerted effort by Hamas to protect their weapons and terrorists behind the human shield of the Palestinian people above them.
For the past few years, Hamas has taken concrete and building materials provided by the international community for the purpose of improving basic infrastructure in Gaza and used them not to create new roads, but rather an underground highway for terror.
For this conflict to truly end, the people of Gaza need to recognize that Hamas offers them no future. Even during humanitarian lulls throughout this latest conflict, where Israel has withheld responding to terror, Hamas has chosen to continue attacking Israeli civilians rather than help replenish the basic needs of the Palestinian people in Gaza.
Israel has and continues to be in favor of a diplomatic path to achieving a peaceful two-state solution, but Hamas has made it clear that they have no interest in being a part of this equation.
Let’s be clear about this, too: Israel completely withdrew from Gaza in 2005. We don’t want to be there, we don’t want our troops to be there, but mostly we don’t want terrorism to thrive there and we don’t want civilians to die there. Sadly, Hamas does.
Hamas bears sole responsibility for the deaths of each and every person in Gaza and Israel, and unfortunately, until Hamas is fully stopped and disarmed, people on both sides will continue to suffer. Israel is committed through this operation to restore calm and stability, so that long-lasting peace can one day have a chance.
(Photo credit: JIM HOLLANDER/EPA)