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Throughout the year, Palestinians have been firing hundreds of rockets into Israel. October and November were particularly active in terms of rockets fired. In response to this escalation, on November 14 the Israelis beautifully assassinated Ahmed al-Jabari, the 2nd in command of the Hamas military wing. He had played a major role in turning Gaza into a full-blown terrorist entity and helped bring about Israel's destructive Operation Summer Rains offensive by kidnapping Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier, in 2006. You don't negotiate with terrorists like him; you kill them. Even before this assassination the Palestinians had fired about 200 rockets into Israel in the course of just a few days: on November 11 over a hundred rockets were fired into Israel. If anything, Israel's recent offensive has been long overdue as Hamas has been well able to build up its army and smuggle weapons into Gaza despite Israel's blockade. Over a thousand rockets were fired into Israel last week, an indication that Hamas has been gaining strength. Even more, a rocket recently landed near Jerusalem, indicating an improvement in rocket technology. Considering this, ending the Gaza blockade would be disastrous as it'd only embolden Hamas and other terrorist groups. In some circles there's this popular theory that Israel doesn't even want to seek peace with Palestine, that they want Gaza to remain in a permanent state of misery while building new settlements in the West Bank, eventually leading to its annexation. Of course, it was only seven years ago that Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip, dismantling its settlements there, forcibly removing hundreds of Jewish settlers. This remarkably generous act was interpreted by Hamas as a sign of weakness as they proceeded to take over the entire Gaza Strip and continued their war on the Jewish state. (Similarly, Israeli withdrawal from Southern Lebanon didn't make Hezbollah any less popular.) Imagine if the withdrawal had worked as intended: Israel would, in all likelihood, be much more anxious to pursue a peaceful solution to the West Bank problem, having some hope that the resulting Palestinian state would not turn into just another hostile neighbor à la Iran, Southern Lebanon, Syria or Gaza. Moreover, Israel's security concerns have only multiplied in the wake of the Arab Spring that may have, in fact, emboldened Hamas to act, hoping the new government in Egypt might come to their aid. This new aspect only makes Israel's ongoing offensive even more important as they need to show Hamas that they have nothing to gain, in terms of their goal of destroying the Jewish state, from the Arab Spring. Meanwhile Hamas continues to act like the barbarians they are. They've been doctoring images and putting civilians in the line of fire for the purpose of selling their cause to the world, and dragging mutilated bodies of "spies" on the streets of Gaza. These "people" are in charge of running the Gaza Strip, a position they seized Nazi-style by first winning some elections, then doing away with their rivals and subjecting the entire Strip to serve their cause. While it's regrettable that civilians are dying due to Israeli airstrikes, in no way should Israel be held responsible, not so long as it's the Gazans who elected Hamas to lead them and shoot rockets at Israel. And if the Palestinians do not in fact endorse Hamas' provocations but are at the same time unable to do anything about it, that leaves only Israel to take matters into their own hands.
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