Within 48 hours of the enactment of the latest Middle East ceasefire, both Palestinian factions that signed on the dotted line violated the agreement by firing Qassam rockets into civilian areas, with the explicit goal of killing as many innocent Israelis as possible.
What didn’t happen in response to this flagrant breach is most significant. The United Nations didn’t convene an emergency session. The inaction was hardly surprising, though. The UN has never done so in reaction to attacks by Palestinian terrorists.
But when Israel had attempted earlier this month to prevent terrorists from firing rockets into its sovereign territory, the international outrage machine ginned up. All but seven members of the United Nations’ General Assembly voted to condemn Israel for its military incursion into Gaza.
Even more disappointing—though no less surprising—is what Israel didn’t do. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rejected a military response in the hours after the agreement went into effect, instead urging “restraint.” By the next day, Olmert was groveling. In exchange for Palestinians living up to the deal they had already ratified, Olmert offered prisoner releases and a reduction of the checkpoints that thwart terrorists.
Why the bizarre extension of an olive branch to terrorists? Most likely, Olmert is too afraid of the international outrage machine to do what he had been doing, off and on, for the past several months with military action in Gaza.
The criticism Olmert apparently feared is the buzzword that was being recycled from Israel’s summer war with Hezbollah: “overreaction.”
To what was Israel “overreacting?” Hamas, using the tactic that Hezbollah licensed from it this summer, continues indiscriminately launching rockets into civilian areas.
Israel’s now-ceased military action was far from an “overreaction.” It was, in fact, a delayed reaction. Rockets have been raining down in southern Israel for years now, and only this summer did the Israel Defense Forces finally execute a sustained response.
For over five years, the residents of Sderot, a small development town of 26,000 in the Negev desert near the Gaza border, have been subjected to a constant barrage of Qassam rockets fired by Hamas, or the democratically elected government of the Palestinians. Over 3,000 rockets have hit Sderot and the roughly 45 smaller communities in the area.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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