JJ Goldberg wrote an article for the Jewish Daily Forward in which he implies that the Netanyahu government lied its way into forcing Israel into an unneeded conflict. Goldberg argues that the Israeli government sat on the information that the three Israeli teens were likely dead in order to exacerbate the situation and that it wrongly blamed Hamas for the murders. Even agreeing with Goldberg that Israel did indeed keep details about the fact that the three students were likely killed and understanding that their murderers may not have had orders to commit the atrocity from Hamas leaders, it is simply not true that the most reasonable explanation of the Israeli government’s actions are as Goldberg describes them.
Let’s begin with the issue of withholding the fact that the tape of the call seems to record gunshots and that the car when found contained eight bullet holes. That information would have certainly resulted in outrage and potentially in revenge attacks the moment it was released. Would Israel have been better off releasing it immediately without substantial preparation for the fallout stemming from the outrageous murder by Hamas affiliated terrorists of three students? Or would it have been better to wait to put into place plans to address the situation? That the world, including the families of these students, didn’t know their fate until the bodies were recovered was certainly painful. However, it would not have been substantially better to have believed them dead, but not had their bodies to bury.
Regarding those Hamas members who killed Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali, it does not matter at all that they did or did not receive orders from Hamas’ leadership. Why? Because Hamas came out in support of the action after the fact. Anyone remember the three finger solute campaign in support of the kidnapping/murder of the students? There is little difference between organized campaigning for others do copy the action and supporting the original action. I’m sorry, but it is ridiculous to argue otherwise.
It was ultimately the rocket fire that spun the situation out of control, not anything related to the murders of teenagers as despicable as those murders were. As the range of the rockets in particular came to be apparent, Israel ceased to have any choice. Hamas’ ability to strike the heart of Israel has left Israel no choice but to take substantial military action. Leaving this situation such that it could flare next week, next month, or even next year would be unconscionable.
Meanwhile, Hamas use of human shields, along with the bunkers and tunnels, prevents Israel from conducting a simple air campaign. Thus we’re looking at a ground invasion in the near future that can limit civilian casualties. Even then there will be many.
Goldberg is right that this is a war that perhaps no one wants. Yet it is a war that Israel has no choice but to fight.
May it be over swiftly and with as few casualties as possible, but more than anything, may it result in a long period of peace.
We pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May it come soon.