Israel acting in self-defense
With regard to the Dec. 16 commentary by Jules Rabin on the recent Israel-Gaza hostilities, it is worth pointing out that if you are going to shoot rockets into a country (Israel) with the intent of killing, maiming and otherwise terrifying its civilians, you can expect that country, just as the U.S. would, will take measures to defend itself. Our president, Barack Obama, specifically acknowledged Israelís right to defend itself in the face of such daily attacks.
Israel has no desire, as Rabin contends, to impoverish or oppress the Gazan population. In fact, it went through a painful withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 specifically in the hope that such a move would lead to peace. The uprooting brought not peace but the election of Hamas and a steady rain of rockets in the years since. Mr. Rabin neglects to mention that Hamasís charter calls for the destruction of Israel and that it is labeled a terrorist organization by our State Department.
As to a blockade and controlled access points, Israelís only goal is to prevent the smuggling of more weaponry. Food and humanitarian aid are not impeded and flow freely. Recent attacks from Gaza in which longer-range Grad and Fajr rockets reached Tel Aviv and Jerusalem indicate that such smuggling continues and Hamas has not abandoned its genocidal aims.
Rabin finds it distressing that more Gazans were killed in the recent conflict than Israelis. Surely, he can understand that war is not a matter of proportionality or tit-for-tat. The goal is to stop the rockets from being fired at all. The first sacred duty of any government is the protection of its civilians.
Gazan rockets may not have killed that many (and how many is enough?), but they have made life unbearable for millions in southern Israel, including schoolchildren who have 15 seconds to get to a shelter when the siren for incoming is sounded. No nation can or should tolerate that.
One should add that Israel takes extraordinary measures to avoid civilian casualties, even to the risk of its own soldiers. If there are inadvertent civilian casualties, the responsibility lies with those who hide behind civilian shields and place missile batteries and weapons caches next to and within schools, hospitals and mosques.