Israel and Hamas must defuse conflict

07/10/2014 5:24 PM

07/10/2014 5:24 PM

Israel and Hamas are ensnared in a violent quagmire that can only get worse if Hamas refuses to end its barrage of rocket attacks and stop putting its own people’s lives at risk.

In the last few weeks, more than 350 Hamas rockets have kept air-raid sirens wailing in Israeli cities.

This week Israel retaliated with fatal airstrikes in Gaza, a campaign that accelerated Thursday.

The fighting was spurred by the reprehensible kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank last month, as well as the gruesome revenge killing of a Palestinian boy in Jerusalem.

Leaders on both sides should resist deepening public belligerence and pursue peace.

This bloody exchange will ultimately be quelled by overwhelming Israeli force or a negotiated settlement. The former can only lead to more hatred and a more precarious peace. What’s needed is a reasonable intervention by the Palestinian Authority to rein in its reckless partner, Hamas.

Any country under incessant rocket fire has the right to defend itself, but Israel needs to show restraint. The prospect of invading Gaza should be discarded.

Perhaps an Israeli offer of a settlement freeze — something that should happen anyway — could convince Hamas to stand down.

But long-term solutions can’t even be discussed until the missiles and bombs stop falling.

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