As rockets continue to rain down on Israeli communities and Israeli troops act to quell the onslaught, I will be boarding a plane bound for the Jewish state to see with my own eyes exactly what is taking place. During my time in Israel, I will be reporting on the ground and conducting a series of in-depth interviews on the latest state of affairs.
At the moment, things are not sounding so great, with the death toll continuing to climb as Hamas rejects calls for a cease-fire and Israel shows no sign of continuing its efforts to stymie the rocket fire and destroy terrorist tunnel networks.
Hamas has fired over 1,500 rockets just since July 8. Israeli men, women and children have just 15 seconds to seek shelter when air raid sirens sound and unguided rockets fly toward population centers. It’s a stunning contrast with the way Israel is conducting its campaign in Gaza — placing phone calls to Palestinians, urging them to evacuate areas where the Israeli army is planning to strike in order to minimize civilian casualties.
In recent days, Hamas terrorists disguised in Israeli Defense Forces uniforms have used tunnels to infiltrate the Jewish state. Israeli soldiers have given their lives to protect Israeli civilians living in communities near Gaza, which were the targets of the cynical Hamas offensive.
The Israeli army has found caches of tranquilizers and plastic handcuffs, which apparently were to be used to sedate and kidnap Israeli soldiers and whisk them away through the subterranean network into Gaza. In the past, Israel has gone to great lengths to trade terrorists for its kidnapped soldiers. Recently, 1,000 Palestinian terrorists were exchanged for a single Israeli, Gilad Shalit, who was held for years in Gaza.
With a citizen army, Israel lives out the ethos that no solider will be left behind on the field of battle. It’s a sacred covenant that the country must maintain if it is going to ask all Israelis, male and female, to serve for years in active military service and then as reservists.
At the moment, Iron Dome batteries are positioned strategically throughout Israel to shield the population from incoming rocket fire from Gaza. The sophisticated system picks up rockets immediately after firing, and algorithms instantaneously determine the flight path of the missiles. If they are headed into an unpopulated area, then the system holds its fire and allows the rockets to explode in empty fields. If the Iron Dome radar determines that the rocket is headed into a population center, then a rocket is fired to intercept the incoming Palestinian missile.
The Israelis are able to afford the Iron Dome batteries and the warheads that make up the system thanks to vital American military assistance. For that, and for the close military and intelligence cooperation, President Obama deserves some credit. Yet the most stalwart support for Israel continues to come from the legislative branch.
Congress approves military funding for Israel each year, and throughout the Obama administration, the Republican-held House and the Democratic Senate have been united in their support for our closest ally in the Middle East.
Yet the overwhelming impression of Mr. Obama and Secretary of State John F. Kerry is that they are extending a hand of friendship to Israel with one hand while holding their nose with the other.
At no other time in recent memory have relations between the White House and Jerusalem been more frosty. Some of that can probably be chalked up to a lack of personal chemistry between the American president and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But much of the blame for the daylight between the two allies lies in the fundamental inability of Mr. Obama to understand the murderous nature of the radical Islamists of Hamas.
Time and again, President Obama and Mr. Kerry have shown a propensity to pressure Israel and to somehow morally equate a Jewish state that seeks peace and respects human life with radical murderers who would rather destroy Israel than create a future for the Palestinian people under their rule. In the run-up to this latest war between Israel and Hamas, the State Department rushed to express its willingness to work with a new Palestinian unity government that included Hamas. This despite the fact that Hamas remains dedicated to the eradication of Israel and refuses to recognize prior peace agreements brokered by the United States.
Mr. Kerry was even caught on a hot mic during an appearance on Fox News last week discussing the Israeli military activities in Gaza. Talking on a cellphone to an aide, he appeared to sarcastically mock Israel’s contention that it is conducting highly targeted operations in Gaza.
“It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” Mr. Kerry said.
The enemies of Israel are also America’s enemies. And when they see rifts developing between America and Israel, they will try to exploit that to pressure Israel and score points in the international arena, where most of the world is all too happy to unfairly malign the Jewish state.
Mr. Kerry’s remarks were a strategic blunder that harm Israel at the very time they are engaged in a fight to live their lives without a constant barrage of rockets coming down on their heads. During a time of relative quiet, Mr. Kerry’s negative comments toward Israel would be misguided and unhelpful. During a time of war, they are simply inexcusable.
• Armstrong Williams is sole owner/manager of Howard Stirk Holdings and executive editor of American CurrentSee Online Magazine.