The clock is ticking. US Secretary of State John Kerry is in Israel, trying to bring about a ceasefire. He was in Cairo Tuesday, and on Wednesday morning met with officials in Tel Aviv, announcing that some progress has been made while declining to give details. Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is also in the region, urging “restraint” on both sides.
Israel is slowly but surely cleaning out the terror den that is Gaza. Awaiting our soldiers in Gaza are tunnels, booby traps and plenty of well-armed fighters. And the fighting is complex and difficult because whenever possible, the IDF tries to prevent civilian deaths. This is well known to the leaders of Hamas and that is why they insist that civilians stay in harm’s way to slow down the IDF.
Israel tries not to kill civilians because it is the right thing to do. And without such care, there would soon be a loud cry from Israeli soldiers as well as civilians forcing the hand of politicians and the army with public opinion. It has happened before in Israel.
World Opinion Focuses on Israel
There is another reason why Israel does not want civilian deaths and it is a more political one. Once Palestinian civilians are hurt or killed, international public opinion quickly becomes focused on Israel in an OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) sort of way. It is as if nothing else matters on earth. Planes can be shot down in the Ukraine and thousands can be killed in Syria or Iraq, but none of it grabs the attention of the media and the political class as Israel does.
And that is what sets off the clock – the ceasefire clock which US Secretary of State John Kerry and others are carrying around. Israelis hear it in the background as they run for shelter from Hamas-launched rockets or as IDF soldiers fight terror cells.
Where are the Protests against the Syrian Slaughter?
Israelis feel that the concern for Palestinians, as for all civilians, is moral and justified. But something seems quite off when looking at the concern projected onto the Gaza situation.
The West seems to shrug at over 100,000 Syrians being killed. Hundreds and thousands are killed in Iraq or Libya, and no significant protests seem to have been held across Europe. Yet when the conflict involves Israelis….wow, the concern and morality that sweeps western capitals is astounding. And Israelis can’t help but feel honored and angry as well. Honored because for some reason, the world thinks Israel is and can be the best. Otherwise, why the high expectations? But there is also a lot of anger and frustration because the double standard costs Israeli lives and guarantees future conflicts. Israelis scratch their heads in wonder, asking how the West can even question why Hamas must be destroyed.
And Israelis know the 24/7 obsession with the Jewish state means that time is limited and so is the opportunity for Israeli action.
A Ceasefire Will Keep Hamas Functioning
It is only a question of time before a cease fire is suddenly announced. If it is anything like agreements of the past, Israelis will feel and voice a tangible sense of disappointment. This would not be coming from a desire for more war or violence. It is actually because Israelis know that to achieve anything even resembling peace, the bad guys have to be beaten. And for reasons which are often far from clear or understandable, the US and the West in general do not seem intent on seeing Hamas beaten. Almost. Close to it. But not completely beaten.
So when Kerry announced a trip to the Middle East on Sunday, many Israelis voiced a prayer that the IDF will get a lot done in beating back the terror kingdom of Hamas in the next few days. There is an incredible sense of frustration and annoyance with players like Kerry because his obsession with quieting things down with a ceasefire that keeps Hamas functioning means Israelis will have to deal with more Hamas terror and rockets sometime soon. Israeli civilians and soldiers will again be at risk. And this is 100 percent personal for almost every Israeli.
Stuart Schnee is the owner of Stuart Schnee Public Relations & Marketing. He lives in Beit Shemesh.