Friday, January 09, 2009

Israeli PM Olmert Rejects UN Security Council Ceasefire--And Well He Should!

Showing more backbone than I would have thought he could muster, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert today rejected the ceasefire resolution passed by the UN Security Council. Olmert stated, ""The State of Israel has never agreed that any outside body would determine its right to defend the security of its citizens. The IDF will continue operations in order to defend Israeli citizens and will carry out the missions with which it has been assigned in the operation. This morning's rocket fire against residents of the south only proves that the UN Security Council Resolution #1860 is not practical and will not be honored in actual fact by the Palestinian murder organizations." This news is from Jerusalem One, which is a good source for a pro-Israel perspective on the ongoing war in Gaza.

The reason why this is good news is revealed in a column by Edward Luttwak in today's Wall Street Journal, entitled, "Yes, Israel Can Win in Gaza--Israel is significantly weakening Hamas – with Palestinian Help." Luttwak puts to rest the notion that Israel cannot achieve victory against Hamas in Gaza. He is the first pundit to note that Israel could not possibly have kept the civilian casualty rate from its attacks down to 25%--the figure up to the commencement of Israel's ground incursion reported by UN and Palestinian sources in Gaza-- if it were not receiving intelligence reports on Hamas targets from Palestinian Arabs working inside Gaza, aiding Israel against Hamas. [By way of comparison, as noted in the Jewish Daily Forward, "civilians make up 67% of the dead in America’s Iraq War and were 80% in Russia’s Chechnya wars."] That suggests that a growing number of Paletinians are fed up with Hamas misrule and are ready to challenge its authority.

Luttwak also finds it significant that Hezbollah--whose supposed "victory" against Israel in the August 2006 Lebanon War as the model for Hamas' rocket campaign against Israel--is taking pains to avoid active participation in the current fighting. The Hezbollah claim of victory was always overblown; Luttwak cites that Israel never committed more than 600 troops on the ground in Lebanon in 2006, and nonetheless managed to kill some 400 Hamas fighters at a cost of only 30 casualties. That did not stop Hezbollah from verbally encouraging Hamas to renew hostilities against Israel. However, Luttwak writes:

But as soon as the fighting started in Gaza, Nasrallah reversed the terms of his declarations -- threatening Israel if it attacked Lebanon (which of course nobody in Israel would want to do). When three rockets were fired from inside Lebanon on Thursday, Hezbollah wasted no time assuring the Israelis that it had nothing to do with it, and that it did not even have that type of rocket in their inventory. This is a familiar trope of the Palestinian experience. There is always some extremist leader ready to instigate the Palestinians to fight, implicitly promising his valiant participation -- until the fighting begins and the promises are forgotten in fear of Israeli retaliation.
Both Luttwak and Charles Krauthammer in his column today note that the Israeli goal is not to totally destroy Hamas, but rather to significantly weaken it, degrade its fighting capability and humiliate its leadership. Achieving those objectives not only would reduce the threat Hamas poses to Israel; it may encourage the people of Gaza to rid themselves of the plague of Hamas misgovernment. And that would be significant progress toward a peaceful two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.


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