Article published in The Daily Telegraph, 1 November 2023. © Richard Kemp
As Israel launched a major ground offensive against Hamas last week, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly passed an Arab-initiated resolution to deny Israel’s right to self-defence following the horrific assault on October 7. While refusing to name Hamas as the aggressor, the UN called for an immediate ‘humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities’.
That is nothing less than a policy of appeasement which both Israel and the US have rightly rejected. What does a cessation of hostilities actually mean? Does it mean negotiation, dialogue and compromise? Of course not. Hamas is a jihadist organisation, dedicated to the destruction of the State of Israel and, like ISIS, the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in which Jews are either killed, expelled or subjugated. Does it mean Hamas laying down its arms? Absolutely not. Hamas fanatics can only fight to win, die fighting or escape to fight another day.
No, a cessation of hostilities can only mean Israel withdrawing back behind its borders, leaving Hamas to rebuild the military capability it used to such inhuman and devastating effect three weeks ago, and to replenish the 7,500+ missiles that have been fired at Israel’s civilian population over the last three weeks. In other words, exactly what happened after Jerusalem agreed to a ceasefire following each of the previous four rounds of fighting in Gaza since Hamas took control in 2006.
After October 7, Israel can no longer tolerate that. No country could. The only option is to fight Hamas and its fellow Gaza terrorists until it destroys their ability to attack its people again. There is no doubt about how hard and bloody that will be: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described it as Israel’s second war of independence. It is an existential fight and if there is any compromise now, Israel will cease to exist in its current form: a country that can defend its people and its territory.
Israel must defend itself not only against Hamas but also its paymasters and military quartermasters in Tehran. Time and again the Iranian ayatollahs have made clear their intention to annihilate the Jewish state and have been building nuclear weapons for exactly this purpose. Alongside that apocalyptic project, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or IRGC has put together a network of jihadist proxies, its ‘axis of resistance’, which includes Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza and terrorist groups in the West Bank, Syria and Lebanon.
Lebanese Hizbollah, battle-hardened by years of fighting in Syria, is by far the strongest, with tens of thousands of highly trained fighters and 150,000 missiles and attack drones pointed directly at Israel. The deployment of the USS Gerald Ford Carrier Strike Group in the eastern Mediterranean to deter Hizballah graphically demonstrates US assessments of the threat it presents. Hamas’s aggression against Israel, armed, trained and directed by the IRGC, foreshadows Hizbollah’s murderous capabilities and intentions. Since this Gaza war began, Hizbollah has been firing missiles into Israel and attempting cross-border infiltration, forcing over 20,000 citizens to flee south.
As 9/11 proved that Al-Qaeda and its allies had to be dismantled, October 7 proves that, like Hamas, Hizbollah must now be taken apart. That may in any case be precipitated by Hizbollah’s own actions if Tehran unleashes a major assault to support its proxies in Gaza, opening up a second front for the IDF. If that does not happen, Israel may have no choice other than to mount a pre-emptive operation as soon as it can. As the Royal Air Force began heavy bombing raids against the Nazi V1 rocket infrastructure in 1943 before a single rocket was fired into Britain, that would be a sound strategy.
But strategy is determined by policy, and a major influence on Israel’s policy is the support of the White House. That applies not only to a potential battle with Hizbollah but also to the current campaign in Gaza. Every previous IDF defensive action there has been prematurely curtailed by pressure from the US and given Biden’s foreign affairs track record and hitherto uneven support for Israel, Jerusalem must be deeply concerned about how much longer he will back them as the war unfolds and casualties mount inside Gaza.
There was no Jewish army to save the Jews from the Holocaust. Today, the IDF has the strength to defend them against a genocidal Iranian regime and its proxies that are hell-bent on the destruction of the Jewish state. Joe Biden must continue to stand against growing international demands, including in the UN, that the IDF’s hands be tied behind its back.
Image: Wikimedia Commons