Israel faces the most difficult decisions over its war against Hamas – Scotsman comment
When Hamas decided to murder innocent men, women, children and even babies in Israel, they knew its government would have no choice but to respond militarily. The most fundamental duty of any government is to protect its citizens. This is especially true in Israel, a country surrounded by openly hostile states and former enemies where signs of weakness are dangerous.
The Israeli government’s primary objective must be to defeat Hamas so that it is unable to mount another such attack. But, given the terrorists’ tendency to use civilians as human shields and Gaza’s population density, this will be an immensely difficult task.
The world needs to steel itself for some horrific scenes ahead. Urban warfare has always been brutal and there are going to be significant casualties. Many will be civilian. It is often overlooked outside France, but the 1944 Battle for Normandy resulted in the deaths of thousands of French people as Caen and other places were reduced to rubble by Allied forces. Hamas is probably hoping to see a similar scale of death and destruction, caring more about propaganda opportunities than life itself.
Israel’s formation of a government of national unity will hopefully help ensure that the operation is tempered by its values as a modern, democratic state, in sharp contrast to the barbarity of Hamas. It must try to work out where to draw the line, which will be drawn in different places by different people around the world. Efforts to avoid civilian casualties, such as Israel’s warnings to areas about to be shelled, should continue.
There should also be consideration given to creating a humanitarian corridor to enable refugees to leave. This may be difficult to arrange and complicated by concerns it could offer Hamas fighters a route to flee so they can fight again another day, but this is perhaps an area where the international community could help.
As the Israeli government plans its next steps, who would wish to be in their position? They face decisions that may well hang on weighing the lives of their own soldiers against efforts to avoid civilian casualties. We wish them well in finding the right path.
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