Wednesday, November 19, 2008

 

Israel's Cynical Response to Tunnels for Peace

Who can say no to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon? Well, apparently Israel can:

Israel Rebuffs U.N. Calls to Open Gaza Crossings

The UN head had called outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Olmert “and "strongly urged (him) to facilitate the freer movement of urgently needed humanitarian supplies" and U.N. aid workers into the Gaza Strip, the U.N. press office said.”

The free movement had been interrupted because “Israel closed the crossings after Palestinian militants responded with daily rocket salvoes to an Israeli army incursion on November 4 into the Hamas-run territory”.

A reasonable person may ask why the Israeli army “incurred”; Reuters reporter Joe Nasr briefly alludes to this:

“Barak acknowledged in the radio interview that the violence was touched off by the Israeli raid, which the army said destroyed a tunnel at the frontier that Gaza militants dug and could have been used to try to seize Israeli soldiers.”

That kind of reads like Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak accepts that Israel started it all. The Reuters piece doesn’t recreate the actual quote so just how did Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak “acknowledge” that the Israel raid touched this all off? Previous Ehud comments on this matter have me doubting that his “acknowledgement was as Mr. Nasr’s wording would suggest:

“In reference to an IDF cross-border raid on a Hamas tunnel last week, Barak added, "Last week we thwarted a strategic terror attack, in which a tunnel was dug towards Israeli territory for the purpose of kidnapping Israeli troops. And since then we have faced [rocket] fire. “ Israel to allow some fuel into Gaza Strip Israel Jerusalem Post

“The defense minister linked the shelling of southern Israel with the killing of 12 Hamas gunmen by the IDF in two recent IDF incursions into the Strip, raids that were aimed at preventing attacks on troops” Barak: Let's not get carried away Israel Jerusalem Post

To borrow an apt observation, a cease-fire is not a suicide pact. I have yet to read any disavowal by Hamas of the tunnels existence and there can be no denying that the Israelis have some cause to mistrust tunnels coming from that side: Palestinians Use Tunnel To Attack Israeli Post (which directly led to the kidnapping of the still missing “Cpl. Gilad Shalit, 19, from the Galilee region of northern Israel”).

Further highlighting the need for skepticism in this reporting is this dispassionate factoid:

“More than a dozen Palestinian fighters have been killed in the past two weeks. Several Israelis have been slightly wounded by dozens of rockets.”

Israeli army soldiers killed the Palestinian in fighting at the tunnels. That’s unfortunate for the affected Palestinians and their families but there is a certain assumption of risk that goes with engaging in such behavior. The fact that the Palestinians suck at effectively retaliating in their manner doesn’t serve to mitigate the inappropriateness of their response. Nor does it make the Israeli actions “disproportionate”.

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