A ceasefire is the wrong approach

A ceasefire is the wrong approach

On October 7, as Hamas massacred 1,200 people of all ages, Hamas admirers in the United States and abroad celebrated. Immediately, they demanded that Israel institute “an immediate ceasefire and de-escalation.”

During the ensuing six weeks of warfare, calls for a ceasefire intensified. Advocates included the UN, China, Turkey, the “Squad” in Congress, Arab nations, left-wing artists and writers, and many “progressive” activists.

Israel rejected the notion. Why? Hamas has no intention of co-existing with the Jewish state. As during the Israel-Hamas wars in 2008-09, 2012, 2014, and 2021, a ceasefire would amount to Hamas’s rearming and preparing for the next round of violence, to which it has publicly declared it is committed.

Israel, above all, has the right and the duty to bring the monstrous perpetrators of the October 7 massacres to justice.

Israeli Rabbi Ethan Eisen, a licensed clinical psychologist, has divided the ceasefire chorus into categories:

Anti-Israel activists who do not accept Israel’s right to exist and put the blame for the violence on Israel alone;

Armchair experts who insist that Israel’s right to self-defense must be carried out in a better way — but are silent about credible alternatives;

Humanitarians who claim that Israel’s just war is costing too many civilian lives, in effect excusing Hamas for its use of non-combatants as human shields;

Useful idiots who unquestioningly accept anti-Israel media distortions as true, as when a fatal blast near a Gaza hospital by an errant Islamic Jihad missile was widely and falsely attributed to the IDF.

What would happen if a ceasefire were to take effect? Veteran Israeli journalist Ron Ben-Yishai delineated six reasons why Israel cannot take this route in a story in YNET:

The war’s duration would be lengthened. Why? Hamas, he said, “would loot the UNRWA” — the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East — “facilities as well as the food warehouses in Gaza and would also replenish their arsenal of weapons and stores of fuel.”

A ceasefire will allow Hamas to restore the communications lines that were damaged and allow its leaders “to transmit orders to outposts that are still fighting” and make it possible “to clear passages in the tunnels that were blocked by Air Force bombs or by the IDF’s activity on the ground.”

A ceasefire would enable terrorists “to reload rocket launchers close to areas where fighting is going on [and] allow a drastic increase of launches toward Israel.”

A ceasefire would facilitate transit among the disconnected tunnels, enabling Hamas to “transport troops, anti-tank missiles, and IEDs.”

A ceasefire “is merely a recommendation for Hamas, while the IDF sees itself obligated to uphold” its conditions. After previous ceasefires, Hamas terrorists emerged out of the underground shafts and murdered IDF soldiers nearby, with no consequences.

With a ceasefire called, Hamas would be able to move the hostages, thwarting the prospect of rescue via intelligence and military action. Hamas would also be able “to collect hostages who are in the hands of other [terror groups], thereby increasing its bargaining power.”

To these factors, former Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren added the following:

Since a ceasefire leaves Hamas in power, people considering investing in or returning to live in the Gaza border communities will be deterred. After all, Hamas proudly announced that the October 7 massacre “was just the first time. There will be a second, a third, and a fourth.”

Additionally, military deterrents will be weakened. Iran and its numerous surrogates — Hizbollah, the Houthis, and others — will learn that they can strike Israel with impunity, confident that any attempt by Israel to defend itself would swiftly be curtailed by international pressure.

What’s more, ceasefire seems to come under discussion only once Israel gains the upper hand in a conflict launched by the Arab side. This is not new. In the Yom Kippur War of 1973, for example, when Arab forces initially were advancing, there was no talk of ending the violence. Once Israel reversed the battlefield situation, Kissinger and Nixon called a halt to the conflict.

Israeli blogger Eytan Uliel pointed out that at the start of this war, on October 7-9, when Hamas had the upper hand and it took three days for the IDF to regain territorial control of southern Israel, “I don’t remember any calls from anyone then demanding any form of restraint or decency of Hamas, much less a ceasefire.”

Ceasefires have been tried during each Hamas-Israel war; all they’ve achieved was the opportunity for Hamas to rearm, regroup, re-fund, and prepare for the next — and even more violent — attack and all-out conflict.

As noted in remarks to the Jerusalem Post, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (who had insisted upon an Israel-Hamas ceasefire in 2014), said, “People who are calling for a ceasefire now don’t understand Hamas.

“Hamas is a terrorist organization,” she said, adding that Hamas has “consistently broken ceasefires over a number of years.”

Keep in mind, Clinton said, “there was a ceasefire on Oct. 6 that Hamas broke by their barbaric assault on peaceful civilians and their kidnapping, their killing, their beheading, their terrible, inhumane savagery.”

The ceasefire “did not hold — because Hamas chose to break it.”

Clinton warned that “a ceasefire done prematurely benefits those who do not abide by any laws, by any rules, by any human character value about the value of life.

“It would be such a gift to Hamas, because they would spend whatever time there was a ceasefire in effect rebuilding their armaments, creating stronger positions to be able to fend off an eventual assault by the Israelis,” she continued.

Clinton went on to say that the large number of civilian casualties and displacements has convinced her to endorse the Biden administration’s proposed “humanitarian pauses.”

In compliance, the IDF explained that “there are tactical, local pauses for humanitarian aid for Gaza civilians. These tactical pauses are limited in time and area…. We are also providing humanitarian corridors for civilians in Gaza to temporarily move south to safer areas where they can receive humanitarian aid.”

With the traumas of October 7 fresh in mind, no Israeli government can get the voting public to assent to a sustained ceasefire that leaves the monsters of Hamas in control of Gaza.

As Hillary Clinton titled her essay in the Atlantic, “Hamas Must Go.”

Rabbi Alan Silverstein, PhD, was religious leader of Congregation Agudath Israel in Caldwell for more than four decades, retiring in 2021. He was president of the Rabbinical Assembly, president of the World Council of Conservative/Masorti Synagogues, and chair of the Foundation for Masorti Judaism in Israel and is now president of Mercaz Olami.

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