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Ha’aretz: Israel on the edge

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Ha’aretz argues in an editorial Thursday that “restraint can no longer be seen as strength” when dealing with the continued Palestinian rocket attacks against Israel in the south.

The dozens of rockets that were fired yesterday from the Gaza Strip – one of which killed Roni Yehiah, a 47-year-old father of four – have placed the IDF on the threshold of a major raid into the Palestinian territory. Crossing this threshold is soon liable to be seen as a necessity that cannot be condemned, but it can still be prevented.

Responsibility for the escalation lies entirely with the Palestinian side; in other words, the Hamas government. We can only imagine what would happen had the Palestinians launched rockets southward into Egyptian territory. We can assume that Egypt would protect its sovereignty and the welfare of its citizens with a tough response directed at the sources of the firing.

Israel is entitled to preserve its sovereignty, which is violated daily by steep-trajectory firing and occasionally by underground activity as well. Its citizens deserve protection from the Qassams. …

After the severe attack at the Tel Aviv Dolphinarium in June 2001, Ariel Sharon said that “restraint is strength.” Sharon stopped thinking so nine months later, after hundreds had been killed, and after the mass murder in the Park Hotel in Netanya. It’s true that in the South there have been fewer casualties, but Israel has been restraining itself for a far longer time, to the point where restraint can no longer be seen as strength.

Although the situation has worsened, a massive invasion of Gaza is not unavoidable, if outside forces can be harnessed to decree restraint on Hamas. … The decision as to whether, how and when to embark on an operation will remain in Israel’s hands. We must hope that this decision will be both daring and level-headed.

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