An avoidable tragedy

An avoidable tragedy

In July 2006, we asked in this space why the U.N. Security Council was so quick to condemn North Korea for test-firing seven missiles while – at the same time – ignoring the missiles being fired from Gaza into Israel.

In an editorial called “Shameful double standard,” we said, “Would that the world had reacted so swiftly, and firmly, to recent events in Israel. Where was the international outcry when young Israeli soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit was seized by Hamas and a young man from the west bank was kidnapped and brutally murdered?” And, in the wake of a missile attack on a school in Ashkelon, we asked, “Where is the emergency session of the U.N. decrying what could have been a major catastrophe?”

We demanded that the international community condemn the Hamas attacks and support Israel’s right to defend herself, adding, “We know that the deliberate targeting of civilian centers would not be tolerated anywhere else in the world.”

Once again, we ask why the world has let this situation continue to the point where Israel now feels compelled to fight a war with Hamas “to the bitter end.” And – to the extent that the U.N. has affirmed Israel’s right to defend itself – why has U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, in an apparent shift of blame, called for an immediate ceasefire, condemning Israel’s “excessive use of force”?

While anti-Israel rallies have sprung up in Arab countries, support has come from strange quarters. In an ironic twist, Mahmoud Abbas, leader of Fatah, has placed the blame for the violence directly on Hamas. (Granted, of course, that Abbas has many reasons to hate Hamas, which took control of Gaza in 2006 after what can be described only as a Palestinian civil war.)

In the meantime, we commend our own government for understanding the desperation that led to Israel’s move. After all, Israel disengaged from Gaza in 2005 to secure peace, but peace never came. It participated in peace conferences, but the government of Gaza did not. It asked for recognition of its right to exist, and that wish was not granted.

Now what? A country must protect its citizens. We would expect no less of our own nation, were any of our 50 states to be the victim of a constant missile barrage. Hamas has been a disaster for its own people, bringing Gaza violence and starvation rather than security and prosperity. Let those who truly love the people of Gaza rally to save them from their own leaders.