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Israel Walks a Tightrope, Deadly Mistakes Inevitable

israeli and palestinian flags with a soldier in the foreground

Susan Estrich By Thursday, 30 May 2024 09:57 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

The killing of civilians in Sunday's airstrike against Hamas in Rafah was, as Benjamin Netanyahu admits, a "tragic mistake." It was certainly that.

The strike was aimed at two Hamas leaders meeting in a compound that was full of civilians, according to news reports. It was not supposed to set adjoining tents on fire.

It came as international condemnation of Israel's offensive in Rafah has been growing. It could not have come at a worse time.

It is painful to watch the world turn on Israel. What's not clear is what Israel is supposed to do.

Hamas continues to have a stronghold in Rafah. Senior leaders there remain committed to Israel's destruction. They have vowed to repeat the atrocities of Oct. 7. Just last week, they were lobbing missiles toward central Israel.

How is Israel supposed to live with such neighbors?

Whether or not Benjamin Netanyahu is its leader?

Israel is walking a tightrope, and in doing so, tragic mistakes seem almost inevitable. The goal remains the same as it was on Oct. 7. Destroying Hamas.

There is no such thing as peaceful coexistence with a neighbor committed to raping your women and kidnapping your elderly, committed to wiping Israel from the face of the globe. "From the river to the sea" is not just a slogan for Hamas, but its imperative.

Israel cannot live with that, nor should the world expect it to. What would we do if we had such a neighbor?

To be sure, Israel should do all it reasonably can to minimize civilian casualties. But Hamas, it seems clear, does everything it can to maximize those casualties and to use exaggerated numbers to win the battle for public opinion.

It hides in the civilian population. It uses women and children as human shields. Is Hamas protecting its own? It is not. It protects itself at the expense of the civilian population.

And it brutalized beyond all imagining the civilian population of Israel in a way that nothing Israel has done in the days since even begins to match.

Screams Before Silence is a film produced by American businesswoman Sheryl Sandberg that documents the sexual violence committed by Hamas on Oct. 7, including the massacre at the Nova Festival and the abductions to the Gaza Strip.

It is shocking beyond words. You can watch it on YouTube. It is why Israel must destroy Hamas.

At least some military strategists believe it is possible for Israel to do a better job of targeting Hamas leaders and Hamas strongholds in Rafah without massive civilian loss of life. The Israeli military claims its latest airstrike was at least a kilometer away from the designated humanitarian refugee zone.

Certainly, it is in Israel's interest to meet this challenge in any way it can, and to acknowledge and own its mistakes. But the world should not expect Israel to abandon its mission of destroying Hamas.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday that Sunday's airstrike did not alter U.S. policy, notwithstanding Hamas' report of dozens of civilian casualties.

Repeating what has been described as a "red line" with Israel, Kirby said, "We don't want to see a major ground operation. We haven't seen that at this point."

This came as Israeli radio announced that Israel had added a fifth brigade of tanks to those already operating in Rafah and engaged in hand-to-hand combat with Hamas. The war goes on.

Susan Estrich is a politician, professor, lawyer and writer. She has appeared on the pages of The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post. Ms. Estrich has also appeared as a television commentator on CNN, Fox News, NBC, ABC, CBS and NBC. Her focus is on legal matters, women's concerns, national politics, and social issues. Read Susan Estrich's Reports — More Here.

© Creators Syndicate Inc.

Israel is walking a tightrope, and in doing so, tragic mistakes seem almost inevitable.
israel, hamas
Thursday, 30 May 2024 09:57 AM
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