26 June '12..
Those who follow news posts from the IDF at www.idfblog.com should surely be familiar with this closing statement, seen whenever there has been a response to an attack emanating from Gaza:
The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers, and will respond with determination to any attempt to use terror against the State of Israel. The IDF holds the Hamas terrorist organization solely responsible for any terrorist activity emanating from the Gaza Strip. (My emphasis)
A strong statement, a clear statement, but ...
MK Shai Hermesh in his editorial "Target Hamas' leadership" in the June 24th Israel Hayom, addresses whether this is or is not, more than mere words and why:
The events in southern Israel over the weekend were about as far removed as possible from what an average Israeli citizen would plan as a weekend activity. Thousands of families living near Gaza, my family and I included, spent the weekend crowded in shelters, to the sound of relentless explosions of mortar shells and Qassam rockets, frightened by every warning and afraid to move around in our own homes. No one knows when all this will end.
Usually, when a barrage of rockets strikes the south, Knesset members who regard themselves as great strategic thinkers — but are in fact just chatterboxes and serial demagogues — suddenly come out of the woodwork and call for a broad military offensive deep in the Gaza Strip, an Operation Cast Lead II. Many of these chatterboxes have never set foot in an Israeli community near the border, but apparently the view from Tel Aviv is much clearer. A massive offensive in Gaza would incur irreparable damage, likely causing the deaths of innocent civilians and serving to intensify the hatred between the two sides.
It is important that we face facts, without cutting corners and without sugarcoating: We are now paying the price for the Israeli notion that Hamas' leaders should be immune from attack because they are the ones who moderate and curb the more radical groups in Gaza, and that it is Hamas which is in fact protecting the citizens of Israel. There were those who thought that Hamas would protect us from the more extreme groups, but that notion has been disproved, as this past weekend clearly demonstrated.
Since Hamas has renewed its assault on Israel's southern communities, and perhaps even masterminded it, Israeli decision makers need to change course and decide that the Hamas leaders are legitimate targets, and lift the immunity from Israeli attacks that they have been afforded until now.
Once, when murderous terror attacks were taking place in central Israel, a policy of targeting Hamas' leaders was implemented. The direct and immediate threat to Hamas' officials proved beyond a doubt that the myth of the 72 virgins was well and good in theory, until it came to the lives of its leaders. And indeed, the number of terror attacks dropped dramatically.
We, the residents of dozens of communities near the Gazan border, promise to stand strong in support of any necessary military offensive — as long as the policy of protecting Hamas' leaders is revoked. The current policy is ultimately causing great harm to the communities on the frontlines, and to Israel's security.
Shai Hermesh is a Kadima MK.
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