America should help Israel destroy Hamas' terrorist tunnels, infrastructure

Opinion,Op-Eds,John Kerry,Egypt,Israel,Terrorism,Middle East,Palestinians,Hamas,Palestinian Authority

Hamas has tried desperately to achieve a strategic win against Israel during the last two weeks, from firing 2,000 rockets on Israeli cities to embarking on suicidal tunnel infiltrations into Israeli territory.

Thanks to the Iron Dome missile defense system, Israeli citizens’ discipline in seeking shelter, and the iron fist of Israel’s military, the terrorist group has failed to kill Israelis in numbers that would be considered a success.

This week, however, the United States made two ill-informed decisions that strengthen Hamas, isolate Israel and point to a severe misreading of the Middle East geopolitical map: an FAA ban on flights to and from Israel, and pushing for a flawed ceasefire deal that would let Hamas retain part of its terror tunnel infrastructure.

The U.S. government thankfully reversed the FAA ban, and now should let Israel destroy the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza rather than push for a ceasefire deal that will strengthen Hamas.

On Tuesday, the U.S. handed Hamas a victory by imposing an FAA ban on all flights to and from Israel, a foolish move that paralyzed Israel’s only international airport for a short time.

It was misguided from a security perspective to place Israel in the group of countries with FAA flight bans, which includes North Korea, Iraq, Somalia and Libya.

Ben-Gurion Airport uses the most sophisticated aviation security in the world, which protects flights from all threats, including Hamas rocket shrapnel landing outside the airport (the occurrence on Tuesday which triggered the ban).

Such an economic sanction, which put Israel’s only global gateway under siege, not only incapacitated Israeli tourism and business travel for a short time, it emboldened Hamas and its terrorist activities.

Rather than isolate Hamas, which Egyptian, Arab and Western leaders have tried to achieve in the past year, the U.S. ban rewarded Hamas, albeit only briefly.

But the Middle East missteps of the world's greatest power and Israel's closest friend don't stop there. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived Wednesday to push for a bad ceasefire deal, which was rejected unanimously by the Israeli security cabinet Friday.

If Kerry continues to push for a ceasefire that allows Hamas to retain part of its tunnel infrastructure and rearm, the terrorist group will launch an even deadlier round of fighting, with more civilian deaths, in the near future.

If the wrong ceasefire proposal is passed, we will continue to see a shortening of years between military actions in Gaza (Operation Cast Lead occurred in 2008, followed by Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012 and Operation Protective Edge today), with battles becoming increasingly deadly as Hamas resupplies with better weapons each time.

The ceasefire deal Kerry is pushing for would result in billions of "relief" dollars pouring into Gaza, which, rather than fund schools, hospitals and homes, will go towards building missiles and attack tunnels to be used in the next terror offensive.

The people of Israel understand that the time has come to destroy the terrorist infrastructure of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

The U.S. should throw its support behind such a campaign rather than push for a premature ceasefire that will allow the terror group to rearm and wreak terror ever more dangerously.

Avi Dichter is a former Israeli internal security minister, homefront defense minister , Shin Bet director and Knesset member.
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