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Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Gaza and Fallujah (WSJ Europe)


Another important battle against terrorism is unfolding as Israeli troops fight Palestinians in Gaza to stop them from firing rockets into Israel.
The offensive began after an attack killed two Israeli toddlers on Wednesday. In five days of fighting, more than 60 Palestinians, most of them believed to be terrorists, died as the Israelis carved out a security zone.

One of the things that sets this incursion apart from similar Israeli military campaigns in the past is Europe's rather muted reaction. While normally jumping on every opportunity to criticize the Jewish state for trying to protect its citizens, most European capitals have so far remained unusually silent. 'The international response did not rise to the anticipated minimum level of expectations,' Arafat adviser Saeb Erekat complained.

Many Europeans though still make an artificial distinction between Hamas and the global threat of Islamic terrorism. 'It's the occupation, stupid,' is the catch phrase of a worldview that pretends Hamas's quarrel is with Israel's size rather than its existence - even though Hamas has never concealed that its ultimate goal is to destroy Israel.

The decision by Prime Minister Sharon to withdraw all settlements from Gaza - unilaterally and without waiting for a Palestinian partner to emerge to sign a deal - was a further blow to the charade that Hamas's terror was in any way a legitimate resistance to end the occupation. If that were the case, Hamas would stop its attacks now, at least from Gaza.

Hamas's murderous ideology means the oft-repeated mantra that there is no 'military solution' to this conflict is plain wrong. The opposite is true - just as al-Qaeda and its global networks must be defeated, only a military solution can end the Palestinian terror. And thanks to improved intelligence, targeted assassinations, and the security barrier, the Israelis are saying that it can be done.

Just as the Iraqi and American troops in Samarra and Fallujah must be allowed to fight until victory, so must Israel be allowed to finish off Hamas. Without these 'military solutions' there is no hope for peace, neither in Iraq nor between Israelis and Palestinians.