Friday, January 09, 2009

Israel Ignores The Ladder It Has Been Handed

The Israeli cabinet announced this morning, despite the UN resolution calling for a ceasefire, that the IDFs offensive in Gaza will continue.

"The State of Israel has a right to defend its citizens, and therefore the IDF will continue to operate (in Gaza) in order to complete its mission, which is to bring about a change in the security situation in south Israel in accordance with plans that had been approved prior to the launching of the offensive."

What those plans are, and what the goals of this war are no one seems to know.

From a military point of view there is always the temptation to take one more hill, destroy one more arms cache, kill one more enemy combatant. Short of total victory and unconditional surrender, there will never be a reason to stop.

Politically Israel can only lose (more) by continuing. The UN gave Israel a ladder with which to climb down from its high horse. It could stop the fighting, claiming to be acceding to the international will, and then demand that the international community put its money where its mouth is and help stabilize Gaza.

Instead it will continue another few days or weeks. It will, indeed, destroy a few more weapons and kill a few more Hamas operatives, but it will also kill many more civilians, increase the bitterness and anger of the Palestinians (manna for Hamas), and increase anti-Israel public opinion around the world - even American public support for Israel is beginning to wain, and lose a few more of its one soldiers both dead and wounded. And when Isreal does cease fire and withdraw, it will allow Hamas to say it fought Israel to a draw, and simply by surviving, forced Israel to retreat.

Better to stop the war now.

But the Israeli leadership still thinks it can win by force alone. After decades of conflict that have learned nothing.

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