President Barack Obama has repeated a past statement that Israel has a right to defend itself against hundreds of missile attacks that have been launched against it from Gaza. The danger in that declaration of support is that it allows room for Israel’s most right-wing elements to define the lengths to which they will go in the cause of “defense.”
And so, on a day the Israeli military carried out dozens of airstrikes while naval forces bombarded targets along Gaza’s Mediterranean coast, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continued to talk about escalating the conflict with an incursion of ground troops into Gaza. A similar offensive four years ago left hundreds of civilians dead, many of them children, which is inevitable in an impoverished strip of land where large, young families are the norm.
While Netanyahu’s threat is troublesome, it is even more alarming that Hamas, the anti-Israel political movement that won elections in Gaza in 2006, continues to aggravate Israel and endanger Israelis by firing ever-more-powerful missiles ever deeper into Israel….
Whether or not U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon can negotiate a cease-fire, it is going to become necessary for President Obama to take a position beyond his statement that Israel has a right to defend itself. That will be interesting to watch, given that Netanyahu injected himself to an unprecedented level in the 2012 presidential election, giving his endorsement to Obama’s losing challenger, Mitt Romney.
That said, the looming crisis should transcend recent partisan politics.
— Distributed by The Associated Press