And it keeps coming …
Jimmy Carter (Washington Post): I know from personal involvement that the devastating invasion of Gaza by Israel could easily have been avoided.
Nicholas Kristof (New York Times): When it is shelled by its neighbor, Israel has to do something. But Israel’s right to do something doesn’t mean it has the right to do anything. Since the shelling from Gaza started in 2001, 20 Israeli civilians have been killed by rockets or mortars, according to a tabulation by Israeli human rights groups. That doesn’t justify an all-out ground invasion that has killed more than 660 people (it’s difficult to know how many are militants and how many are civilians).
Roger Cohen (New York Times): Since 1948 and Israel’s creation, retribution has reigned between the Jewish and Palestinian national movements. I have never previously felt so despondent about Israel, so shamed by its actions, so despairing of any peace that might terminate the dominion of the dead in favor of opportunity for the living.
Daniel Finkelstein (The Times of London): The origin of the state of Israel is not religion or nationalism, it is the experience of oppression and murder, the fear of total annihilation and the bitter conclusion that world opinion could not be relied upon to protect the Jews … So when Israel is urged to respect world opinion and put its faith in the international community the point is rather being missed. The very idea of Israel is a rejection of this option. Israel only exists because Jews do not feel safe as the wards of world opinion. Zionism, that word that is so abused, so reviled, is founded on a determination that, at the end of the day, somehow the Jews will defend themselves and their fellow Jews from destruction. If world opinion was enough, there would be no Israel.
Yossi Beilin: What can be done now? First of all, a ceasefire. If it proves impossible to agree, then Israel should initiate one unilaterally. After all, we are the elephant and Hamas the fly; we can declare that if, after several days of ceasefire on our part, firing does not stop in Gaza, we’ll be free to take renewed action.
Ha’aretz (editorial): As long as the initiative is still being considered, in indirect Israel-Egypt-Hamas talks, it is Israel’s right and obligation to ensure the security of its soldiers in the field and its citizens on the home front, who are still under rocket fire. In the immediate future Israel should not be expected to limit its military action as needed — especially not from the air and in the captured areas on the ground. Wisdom nevertheless dictates against sending in brigades and divisions, including reserves, to occupy more territory.
Ari Shavit (Ha’aretz): The exit ramp proposed by France was initially torpedoed by Tzipi Livni. An exit opportunity following the aerial assault has passed. On the table now is a last chance for an exit before the operation turns into an all-out war against Hamas. If no agreed-on diplomatic formula or suitable political mechanism is in place by this weekend, Israel is liable to find itself in a war it did not desire: a war to topple Hamas.