One day while Jesus was teaching His disciples about the cost of discipleship He used the following illustration: “ What king going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes out against him with twenty thousand?” The message Jesus communicated is clear. Before you begin a task you should count the cost to see if you are willing to take the steps necessary to see the task through to completion.
Just over two weeks ago, the Israeli Parliament counted the cost and decided they were ready to deal with the over 6000 rockets and mortar shells fired into Southern Israel since their withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. Hundreds of those rockets were fired during a so-called “cease fire” over the past six months. Apparently, the Hamas version of a cease-fire means Israel agrees to restrain from returning fire while Hamas reloads.
It is absurd for the international community to expect anything less than Israel’s all out response to the Hamas attacks on its citizens. No country; not the United States, Canada, Mexico, Iran, Syria, Pakistan, or Egypt would allow constant rocket attacks without a full scale response. Not one of the member nations of the UN that voted to sanction Israel and call for an immediate cease fire would, for one day, suffer the attacks Israel has suffered without full scale retaliation. In fact, in my view, Israel has exercised tremendous restraint. Thanks to years of U.S. military support, Israel is a formidable military power in the region. In response to criticism of Israel’s supposed over reaction to the rocket attacks from Hamas, Likud Party member and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Fox News that if Israel wasn’t concerned about the welfare of the Palestinian population they would simply carpet bomb Gaza. The fact that Israel has chosen to put members of their military in harms way by a ground invasion is a sign of Israel’s restraint.
With each passing day, the death toll in Gaza rises. As the death toll rises, international pressure for Israel to call a cease-fire increases. It is virtually impossible to know the true death toll of civilians because Hamas is controlling the information coming out of Gaza. We know they have been guilty in the past of feeding false pictures to Western media outlets that quickly published the pictures without any vetting of the sources. We also know that during this offensive, some media outlets have published video images that later proved to be false.
Please don’t misunderstand…. There is much death and suffering taking place in Gaza as a result of Israel’s offensive. But the blood of the innocents is on the hands of the terrorists who hide behind human shields and store rockets in Mosques. Israel cannot simply walk away from the fight because the leaders of Hamas are such cowards that they would place their main control center in the basement of a hospital. Israel cannot allow its citizens to continue to be terrorized because Hamas fighters choose to hide in schools surrounded by innocent children. For any cease-fire to have meaning, the Israeli military must locate and destroy the intricate system of tunnels that allows the smuggling of weapons from Egypt into Gaza. They must go house to house, Mosque to hospital to root out the threats to the security of their people. It is Hamas that has chosen to wage war over the bodies of women and children. The international community should see every civilian casualty as a testimony to the barbarism of Hama rather than a lack of restraint on Israel’s part. They should, in one voice, call for Hamas to destroy their cache of rockets and stop placing the Palestinian people in the middle of a war they are determined to pursue, even in the face of a negotiated cease-fire.
But of course, the international community will never side fully with Israel. They can’t because the once great democracies of Western Europe are already aflame with the unrestrained hand of Islamic extremism. Any support of Israel and France, Great Britain, Germany, and Spain would erupt in violence.
So the clock continues to tick as time runs out for Israel to cripple Hamas before the pressure from the international community becomes unbearable. The Israeli leadership knows they are winning the battle on the ground but losing the battle in the hearts of the people of the world. Few will mourn when the innocents die in Tel Aviv due to a suicide bomber. Fewer still cry out in protest when gunmen spray an Israeli marketplace taking the lives of Jewish citizens who are simply going about their business. Israel has no choice but to finish the fight with Hamas before time runs out.
As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I pray for the peace of Jerusalem. I pray that Israel’s enemies will be pushed back to a place where rockets can no longer reach their targets. I pray that the international community will stop treating Hamas as a rival national entity and will recognize it for what it is…a terrorist organization dedicated to the obliteration of Israel as a state and the Jews as a people.
Finally, I pray that this time, Israel counted the cost before going to war and that they have rightly calculated what must be done for the victory to be won.
Dr. Tony Beam is Vice-President for Student Services and Director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University in Tigerville, South Carolina.