Ari Shavit
Haaretz (Analysis)
January 12, 2009 - 1:00am

The war on Hamas is a war for the sovereignty of Israel. It was launched due to repeated rocket attacks from Gaza following Israel's disengagement from the coastal strip.

No country in the world would put up with a situation in which its sovereignty is being undermined and its citizens are being threatened. Given its small geographical territory and many enemies, Israel can not put up with this situation.

Therefore, it is up to every decent person who wants Israel to strive for peace and end its occupation and return to its original borders to support its fight for sovereignty.

The war on Hamas has bred a humanitarian crisis. Hundreds of Palestinian civilians have been killed, thousands have been wounded, and over a million have been left homeless and despairing.

There is no denying that Israel should have done much more to prevent the enormity of this crisis from transpiring. But the international community - which openly supports a war against the Taliban that has taken the lives of hundreds of innocent people - can not, and must not, condemn this war.

Over the past two weeks, Israel has behaved obtusely and insensitively. But waging war is not a crime. It is yet another chapter in this tragic saga that must come to an end.

Since launching its attack on Gaza on December 27, Israel has achieved most of its goals: Hamas was served a harsh blow, Israel regained its deterrence capabilities, and there is a tangible chance of brining to a halt the rocket fire on southern Israel.

A right diplomatic move may now put an end to the smuggling of arms from Egypt, as well as undermine the Palestinian extremists. If this is indeed the case, Israel could achieve its desired overall goal: peaceful coexistence with a weakened and deterred Hamas.

In many respects, the war in Gaza has compensated for the shortcomings of the Second Lebanon War. This time around, the decision to launch the offensive was calculated and reasoned, and the army has exhibited impressive capabilities.

It is therefore only fair to determine that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is to blame for the botched war in Lebanon, is the same person who now stands behind Israel's achievements.

But in order to maintain these achievements, Israel must not expand its operation in Gaza. On the contrary. The relative success should be used to forge a swift diplomatic agreement - one that would stop the fire, halt the killings and bring the soldiers back home.

Olmert should abide by his own mantra: Enough is enough.


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