From THE JERUSALEM POST Editorial, Apr. 9, 2008:
Our enemies in Gaza expect Israelis to feel compassion, and the international community to feel outrage, over the deprivations suffered by Gazans - lack of fuel, for instance - even as they try to kill us at every opportunity. That's the bitter reality underlined by the latest terrorist attack, on Wednesday afternoon at the Nahal Oz fuel depot on the border between Gaza and Israel.
Palestinian terrorists, under mortar cover, infiltrated the crossing just after Israeli tankers had delivered the latest consignment of fuel for Gaza, financed by the European Union. The apparent aim was to kidnap more Israeli soldiers. Most, if not all, of the terrorists were killed, but not before they had murdered two innocent Israelis.
Earlier yesterday, Palestinian terrorists had also managed to mortally wound a member of an elite IDF unit, 21-year-old St.-Sgt. Bisan Sayef from the Druse town of Jatt in the Galilee, whose squad was operating against the Hamas-fostered terrorist infrastructure in the southern Gaza Strip.
IDF soldiers have been conducting small-scale operations in Gaza in an effort to end the Kassam attacks against Sderot and the surrounding area, and to halt sniper shootings against Israeli farmers and other civilians.
Earlier in the week, a tunnel shaft roughly 3.5 meters deep was located in a building 700 meters from the security fence. The tunnel had been dug not to smuggle food into the Strip - that's mostly supplied by Israel - but to export death and destruction.
ON TUESDAY night, Israel's Channel 10 news aired a report showing how Palestinian drivers in Gaza found themselves forced to sleep in their vehicles due to long lines at gas stations caused by the fuel shortages. Strange, then, you might think, that the Palestinians would target the very depot that brings them gasoline for their cars and diesel for their hospital generators.
But the Palestinian leadership adamantly places "resistance" - read: killing Israeli civilians and soldiers - over providing food, shelter and the prospect of a better life for its people. And it has ruthlessly exploited any and every vulnerable target where Israel tries to partner with Gazans for their own benefit - including joint industrial zones, supply depots and border crossings - to carry out such killings.
Almost every day, dozens of truckloads of humanitarian aid and supplies are transferred into the Gaza Strip via the Kerem Shalom, Sufa and Karni crossings. On a typical day last week, dozens of trucks brought cocoa, powered milk, jam, oil, peas, tissues, diapers, toilet paper, medical supplies, wheat, corn, sesame and grain. Others brought dairy products, sugar, fruit, meat, rice, flour, oil, carrots, pasta, garlic, fish, eggs, salt, tea, medical supplies, ketchup and vegetables. On that same typical day, also, an observer - assuming he was not being shot at by Palestinian snipers - would have noted long convoys of tankers delivering fuel and gas through the Nahal Oz crossing.
Thousands upon thousands of tons of humanitarian aid have been transferred by Israel to an entity that is at war with us - a state of war unaffected, indeed often intensified, by Israel's 2005 removal of all vestiges of its civilian and military presence in Gaza. Israel insistently maintains this aid supply, enabling an enemy government that targets our civilians to continue to rule, because, despite everything, it cannot bear to see ordinary Palestinians starving. Israel does so, too, because that's what the civilized world expects from the only democracy in the Middle East. But Israel must have its limits.
Hamas rules Gaza. The Palestinian people elected Hamas, and polls suggest they would elect Hamas again were elections held today. Though other terror organizations claimed responsibility for yesterday's attack, it is Hamas that Israel correctly holds responsible.
Israel cannot be expected to deliver food and fuel to an enemy that won't stop shooting at its civilians and trying to kidnap or kill its soldiers. It cannot maintain points of contact with Gaza when terrorists cynically utilize the necessary vulnerability of such points of contact to commit murder.
If all the international community is prepared to do is issue ineffectual denunciations of the "cycle of violence" rather than of its instigators, and if it persists in equating Israeli retaliation with Palestinian aggression, it too will remain part of the problem. The Quartet - the EU, UN, US and Russia - should, rather, demand an immediate halt to Palestinian violations of Israel's border. And it should firmly support Israel in conditioning ongoing assistance to Gaza on a halt to such attacks.