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Argument: Israeli strikes were rightly measured to disable Hamas rocket attacks

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"National Post Editorial Board: Why Israel can't afford to hold back". National Post. December 31, 2008 - To be sure, Israel’s reaction to the constant deluge of missile fire from Gaza has been harsh, but necessarily so. Moreover, now that Israel has begun its retaliation it would be unwise to halt before Hamas is permanently incapacitated. Among the many reasons Hamas felt emboldened to attack Israel first was the Jewish state’s recent reluctance to counter assaults on its people and territory with punitive force. Thus Israel is also justified in rejecting an internationally proposed ceasefire. If southern Israel is to know “quiet” again, Israel must rout Hamas so as to deter it and other Islamic extremists from resuming their assaults.

When the Israel Defense Force last engaged jihadis in battle — in Lebanon in the summer of 2006 – it was too tentative. It attacked only from the air throughout most of the four-week campaign, sent ground troops in too late and refused to let them combat forcefully, then grasped at the first international ceasefire that came along. The result was that Israel withdrew without shattering Hezbollah, its enemy in that confrontation, which emboldened Islamic militants across the Middle East. They perceived the Israeli government’s timidity as a sign Israel no longer had the stomach to defend itself or its people. This time, Israel cannot display similar frailty. And so far it has not.

[...]Were Israel to desist now, before Hamas has been dealt a crippling blow and before the Israeli government has once again proved its mettle, Palestinian militants would soon be firing rockets at Israeli schools, homes, shops, offices and public buildings again. Nothing would have been gained and the lives lost on both sides would have been in vain.

As unpleasant as it may be for Israel to persist, it must forge on if Operation Cast Lead is to have any long-term benefits.

Steve Huntley. "Israel's surgical strikes aim at reasonable goal". Chicago Sun Times. December 30, 2008 - The surprise Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip has killed scores of Hamas leaders, terrorists and allies, reduced their key installations to rubble and stunned the Islamist fanatics and their supporters with the magnitude, fury and success of the attack. While we hear complaints from the usual suspects about a "disproportionate" Israeli response to Hamas provocations, the real issue is whether in the end the offensive will have been strong and decisive enough to constitute a "terrible swift sword" cutting down Hamas' ability to wage terrorism.

[...]in Israel's favor is its goal: End the daily missile attacks on 250,000 of its citizens who live in the cross hairs of Islamist terrorists in Gaza. That's a clear, reasonable, attainable objective.

"Conference of Presidents Supports Israeli Action to Protect its Citizens". Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. December 27, 2008 - The goal of today’s attack was to strike at Hamas’ infrastructure in order to bring an end to the rocket firings on Israel and the terrorist attacks from the Gaza Strip. Israel remains committed to maintaining a peaceful solution and had entered into the most recent ceasefire through Egypt to work toward establishing calm without the use of force. At the same time, however, the Hamas regime took advantage of the ceasefire by continuing to launch rockets into southern Israel, keep Gilad Shalit captive and build up its arsenal. The Hamas arsenal is now believed to have thousands of missiles, anti tank and anti-aircraft weapons, tons of munitions and an infrastructure of 50-kilometer underground tunnels. They improved the range of their rockets so that major population centers like Ashkelon, Ashdod and Be’er Sheva are at risk.

Israel specifically selected Hamas military targets and used pinpoint strikes in order to avoid civilian casualties. Israel targeted training camps, underground missile silos and command-and-control centers throughout the Gaza Strip. One of the buildings hit today included a Hamas headquarters that was used for stockpiling weapons and military equipment and was a launching point for terrorist operations into Israel.

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