It’s of utmost and urgent importance that Secretary of State John Kerry succeed in his mission to broker a ceasefire in the Gaza conflict between Israel and Hamas.
The rest of the world is tired of watching the bloodshed mount, tired of the pictures of death and grief, tired that this irreparable and ceaseless struggle over territory, identity, dignity and the right to exist has erupted once again into chaos and madness.
Certainly Israel has a right to defend itself against Hamas’ incoming rockets and tunneled attacks, but its asymmetrical and overpowering response seems to be playing into the enemy’s hands.
And certainly the overburdened people of Gaza deserve a better fate than they have been dealt within Israel’s tightened borders since 2005 and Hamas’ misguided leadership since 2007. They deserve to be more than human shields shamelessly sacrificed by Hamas in order to score political points.
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In the last two weeks, more than 650 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed. Tragically, many have been children. Hamas has killed 30 Israelis.
Instead of calculating moral equivalencies, Israel should assert a measure of moral courage by pulling back and agreeing that enough is enough for now. Hamas should do the same.
If Kerry can help align Israel, Egypt, the United Nations, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas’ allies in the region on a ceasefire path, it could serve to pressure or isolate Hamas. That is far more preferable than allowing the ongoing assault to embolden it.
Our recent record of diplomacy in the region is not encouraging. But a failure now can only lead to more intractable militarism on both sides, and more despair among the people of Gaza as well as Israel.