On Thursday, a three-day truce was announced in the Gaza war. It was quickly broken by Hamas, which reportedly kidnapped an Israeli soldier. Once again, the real world will not cooperate with Secretary of State John Kerry.
After getting smacked around by the U.S. and Israeli media, the Palestinian Authority and Egypt, a chastened Kerry announced yesterday: “So starting later this morning at 8:00 August 1st, the parties are expected to cease all offensive military activities, and neither side will advance beyond its current locations. They will stay where they are in place. Israel will be able to continue its defensive operations for those tunnels that are behind its lines, and the Palestinians will be able to receive food, medicine, and additional humanitarian assistance, as well as to be able to tend to their wounded, bury their dead, be able to in safe areas travel to their homes, and take advantage of the absence – hopefully, hopefully – of violence for these 72 hours.” Israel was permitted to continue its critical work in destroying tunnels and rockets in territory in which it operates. Within 24 hours, all that smart diplomacy was undone by terrorists, making the argument that much stronger that any lasting truce is dependent on Gaza’s demilitarization.
Kerry, trying to strike a “balance” between a terrorist group and our closest ally in the Middle East, declared, “The parties, obviously, need to find a way to address Israel’s security concerns and to ensure that the people of Gaza can live in safety and in dignity.” It’s good that he finally understands this. The solution, however, to both problems is the same — demilitarize Gaza; remove Hamas so that aid money can be used properly; reestablish a presence for the PA; and audit and scrap the United Nations Relief and Work Agency in favor of an impartial entity that does not harbor weapons and ensures that aid is properly used and that children are not enlisted as tunnel diggers and human shields. The PA and/or Egypt will need to take greater responsibility for Gaza, both for the sake of continued peace and for the benefit of Gazans.
This comes at a time when even hyper-partisan Democrats such as Rep. Steve Israel (N.Y.) publicly criticize Kerry. The Hill reports:
The congressman said he supported Kerry for defending Israel’s right to survive and protect its citizens, but took issue with suggestions that the country was not doing enough to prevent civilian deaths in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt” airing Friday.
“I do get concerned with statements from Secretary Kerry, as I was concerned with statements in the Bush administration, about the need to — for Israel to show sensitivity or demonstrate greater attempts, with respects to civilians in Gaza, when Israel in fact goes further than most any other country I know to do that,” Israel said.
He might next take on the White House spokesman who blithely announced that a purported strike on a Gazan school was “totally unacceptable and totally indefensible.” That might have made sense if he was referring to Hamas, which has embedded children in a war zone and, of course, started the conflict. Alas, Josh Earnest was thrashing Israel, again. When Earnest says such things and proclaims that Israel must do more to protect civilians, someone should ask him what exactly he suggests. What military expertise could he lend to the situation that would allow Israel to defend itself and its people from war criminals using civilians to accomplish their aims? Does the president, who has experienced some collateral damage of his own in the use of drones, have any specific recommendations to share? If not, they might consider focusing attention on Hamas’s war crimes, which would not only be a truthful exercise but also please our Arab allies in the region who fear Iran-backed terrorists operating in their countries.
The Obama administration’s moral preening is galling, but ultimately irrelevant. Israel in its persistence and ferocity has made clear the terms of a deal — disarm Gaza, or the war continues. You see, that is how one “ends” war — by winning it.