The elimination of Hamas' tunnels and military capability must be included in any cease-fire deal.
The Hamas tunnels must go. So, too, must any military capability of the terrorist regime that rules Gaza.
Those Israeli demands should be a no-brainer — eliminate the arsenal of the Palestinian terrorists whose actions threaten the state of Israel, bring death and destruction upon their own people and advance the kind of radical Islamist ideology that is destabilizing the whole region.
Not surprisingly, the world doesn’t always see it that way. It’s our job to help them do so. As Israel’s war with Hamas intensifies, so, too, does the war for public opinion. But ultimately it’s what happens on the ground that matters most. Even as we continue to grieve for the lost Israeli soldiers — and innocent Palestinian civilians — we know this war that Israel was forced to wage will have been for naught unless Hamas’ tunnels are neutralized and the area demilitarized.
A very public and damaging spat erupted over the weekend after the Israeli Cabinet rejected what it reportedly believed to be a cease-fire proposal by Secretary of State John Kerry. The Israeli government rejected the proposal at least in part because it was seen as too sympathetic to Hamas’ demands and because it was negotiated with Hamas’ main supporters in the region, Qatar and Turkey.
The administration claimed that it wasn’t a final proposal but rather a draft. In either case, both sides are trying to walk back from the fiery rhetoric that ensued. Obama administration officials are now publicly stating in unison that demilitarization must be a part of any agreement. The president said it this week, as did Kerry and Susan Rice, the national security advisor, who addressed some 500 Jewish organizational leaders from around the country who gathered in Washington on Monday.
Some of those who traveled to Washington were left encouraged by the support articulated by Rice and top congressional leaders.
“I came away with the perception that while there may be disagreements about strategy, there is no public disagreement about what needs to be done here,” said Arlene Fickler, who heads the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s Israel Advocacy Committee and was one of four local leaders at the D.C. gathering.
Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, also downplayed any disagreements and thanked the Obama administration for its support and efforts at trying to reach a cease-fire.
Now, we must insist that the administration match its words with actions. We all pray that an end to the violence will come soon but any cease-fire agreement must include Israel’s right to do what is needed to ensure the safety of its citizens.
The tunnel terror must end once and for all.