No Pause Until Hostages Are Released

Dr. Malcolm Cross

It’s been said that Israel is the one nation on the planet whose right to self-defense is questioned.  The demands made on Israel for “humanitarian pauses” certainly reflect the world’s hostility to the Jewish state.  But Israel’s government is right to reject such demands, at least until Hamas releases all the hostages seized on October 7 (assuming they’re still alive).

One must wonder why President Biden, initially so forthright in pledging support of Israel, has joined in calling for humanitarian pauses.  Political calculations may well be at play.  The cause of defending Israel and defeating Hamas is deeply unpopular on American college campuses and among the radical leftists in the Democratic Party’s “Squad.”  Zionism is denounced as racism and Israel is accused of being a colonial power practicing apartheid.  As public opinion polls continue to show Biden running poorly against former President Trump, he must be concerned that his unqualified support for Israel may weaken his own re-election chances, especially if enough of those who would otherwise vote for him decide to sit out the election because of his support for Israel.  He may believe that attempts to mitigate the sufferings of the Palestinians in Gaza will diminish political defections and thereby improve his political prospects.

And to be fair, no doubt Biden’s also moved by the sight of the thousands of Palestinian civilians—especially women and children—being killed or wounded, and the growing deprivations to which survivors in the Gaza Strip are being subjected.  Their suffering is real.  It must be stopped.

But it is one thing to want to end the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza, and an altogether different matter to hold Israel responsible for doing so.  Israel is neither responsible for their suffering nor able to stop it.  Sole responsibility for causing the suffering, and sole power for ending it, belong to Hamas alone.

Consider–Israel launched its war in response to the unprovoked attack by Hamas on a harmless music festival, slaughtering more than 1,200 Israeli men, women, and children, and taking over 240 hostages.  The idea that Israel should not have retaliated is simply too idiotic.  Given Hamas’s determination to destroy Israel and its citizens, Israel must not end its war until Hamas itself is destroyed.

Moreover, it is Hamas which has designed its defenses to put the Palestinian people in the greatest possible danger.  Hamas has built an extensive and elaborate system of tunnels and bunkers below civilian population centers, hospitals, and schools.  In effect, it’s cowardly hiding behind innocent civilians, using them as human shields (by the way, how much better could Hamas, which has dominated Gaza since Israel ended its occupation years ago, have improved the lives of the Palestinians had it used its resources for schools, hospitals, roads, etc., rather than for weapons, tunnels, and fortifications?)

And it is Hamas which really holds the key to ending the suffering of the Palestinian people.  Prime Minister Netanyahu has, in fact, offered humanitarian pauses in exchange for the release of the 240 hostages still thought to be held by Hamas.  What’s so unreasonable or inhumane about that?  If Hamas truly cared about the welfare of the Palestinian people, it would release the hostages immediately—assuming, that is, that it hasn’t already murdered them—and then demands for Israeli reciprocity, including a humanitarian pause, would be more justified.

Netanyahu has said that reports that he agreed to daily 4-hour pauses are false, but he has, in fact, said he is open to considering brief intermittent pauses.  But he fears that longer pauses without hostage releases would simply give Hamas time to rest, regroup, and resume its murderous war against Israelis, whose own sufferings mount, along with more suffering for the Palestinians.  Netanyahu should hold fast to his demands for the release of Israeli hostages—and keep his promise of humanitarian pauses when they’re released, but not before.  And once the hostages are released and humanitarian aid is rendered to the innocent Palestinians, Israel must be allowed to resume its fight for survival until it achieves victory.  Only with the destruction of Hamas can there be a chance for true peace for—and between—Israel and the Palestinians.

Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton from 1987 until 2023. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present).  He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014.  He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.

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