Gaza’s Not the Key, Philadelphi Is

The Second Hamas-Israel War of Nov. 10-21 inspired a mighty debate over rights and wrongs, with each side appealing to the large undecided bloc (19 percent of Americans according to CNN/ORC, 38 percent according to Rasmussen). Is Israel a criminal state that has no right to exist, much less to deploy force? Or is it a modern liberal democracy with the rule of law that justifiably protects innocent civilians? Morality drives this debate.

To any sentient person, it is obvious that Israelis are 100 percent justified to protect themselves from wanton attacks. A cartoon from the First Hamas-Israel War of 2008-09 symbolically showed a Palestinian terrorist shooting from behind a baby carriage at an Israeli soldier in front of a baby carriage.

The tougher question is how to prevent further Hamas-Israel wars. Some background: If Israelis are 100 percent justified in protecting themselves, their government also bears complete responsibility for creating this self-inflicted crisis. Specifically, it made two misguided unilateral withdrawals in 2005:

From Gaza: Ariel Sharon won reelection as prime minister in Jan. 2003 in part by mocking a rival who called for the unilateral withdrawal of all Israeli residents and soldiers from Gaza; then, inexplicably, in Nov. 2003 he adopted this same policy and put it into effect in Aug. 2005. I dubbed this at that time, “one of the worst errors ever made by a democracy.”

From the Philadelphi Corridor: Under U.S. pressure, especially from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Sharon signed an agreement in Sep. 2005, called “Agreed Arrangements,” that withdrew Israeli forces from the Philadelphi Corridor, a 14-km long and 100-meter wide area between Gaza and Egypt. The hapless “European Union Border Assistance Mission at the Rafah Crossing Point” (EUBAM Rafah) took their place....

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