So already the madness has started. No, not Israel’s self-defense operation against the terrorism from Gaza but the onslaught from Israel’s detractors. Already the Israeli action is being presented as a reckless ‘escalation’ of hostilities, a means of sparking a regional conflagration that will drag in other countries.
The BBC’s Jeremy Bowen suggested yesterday that the Israeli operations were part of a ploy by Benjamin Netanyahu to get re- elected. “In the past”, he declared “military strikes have been used to send messages about the toughness of Israeli leaders.” In other words, Netanyahu’s action was designed to feed the Israeli public’s insatiable appetite for conflict.
As we know, what the BBC says really matters because it remains the most influential shaper of public opinion in the UK. Much of the public will swallow the BBC’s line, not because they are automatically pro-Palestinian or bigoted, but simply because the real context for Israeli actions has been vastly underreported.
In the few days before Israel targeted Ahmed al-Jabari, the head of Hamas’ military wing, there had been an unprovoked attack on an Israeli jeep that injured four soldiers, one seriously. What followed was a sustained barrage of rocket attacks (well over 100) across the south of Israel, with some 120 rockets fired since Jabari was killed. Three Israeli civilians have now been killed by a direct hit. Hamas has also been busy importing scores of Fajr missiles from Iran with a range of up to 75 kilometres, making them capable of reaching Tel Aviv.
Yet these latest outrageous attacks are but the tip of the iceberg. Since the start of 2012, 797 rockets have been fired from Gaza, forcing approximately one million Israelis in towns across the south to flee to their nearest bomb shelter, with as little as 15 seconds to react. The number of rockets fired increases to over 5,000 since 2006.
Yet apparently, the low number of casualties (thanks to Israel’s advanced technology and interception systems) is a total non-story. It is only when Israel ends its restraint and finally takes decisive action that suddenly the BBC screams of a dangerous escalation. They then have the temerity to suggest that the real reason for the Gaza operation lies hidden beneath a clever Israeli smokescreen. Rockets? What rockets?
As if to restate the obvious, no western government would tolerate even a fraction of the rocket attacks suffered by Israel. Imagine that the citizens of London, Manchester or Birmingham came under fire from missiles fired by terrorists. If they were forced to dive into bomb shelters on a daily basis, if schools in those cities were closed, and if life ground to a halt under a relentless terrorist barrage, our own government would not hesitate to act. And rightly so. Even one missile or rocket would be an intolerable invasion of our sovereignty requiring the most robust response.