Well, it took a couple of months, but finally happened. I hoped like hell it wouldn’t, but it was pretty much inevitable. There has been a major terrorist attack in Israel, the first since Hamas took the reins of government in the Palestinian Authority. A suicide bomber attacked an Israeli restaurant, killing nine and wounding 60. And while it appears that Hamas didn’t directly sponsor the attack, what has been their response?
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said, “the resistance is a legal and natural reaction to the Israeli crimes, and the Palestinian people have the right to defend themselves.”
Khaled Abu Hilal, a spokesman for the Palestinian Interior Ministry, said the bombing was “a direct result of the aggression of the Israeli occupation policy. The Israelis are imposing a siege on the Palestinian people.”
So, there you have it. Two official spokesmen for the Palestinian government have reaffirmed all the previous Hamas statements, that a formal state of war exists. No words of condemnation, no pledges to prevent further acts of aggression, just a simple restatement of the long-held Hamas belief that Israel needs to be obliterated.
And no longer is this the statement of a terrorist group, or even a political party. Hamas is now, for all intents and purposes, the legitimate government of the Palestinian people. They chose them to govern, to rule, to represent them, to speak on their behalf in free elections. (Well, as free as one could expect.) The Palestinian people have made their bed, and now they get to lie in it.
Their chosen leaders have publicly and forcefully restated their declaration of war, and hostilities have resumed. Israel has arrested the father of yesterday’s suicide bomber, but would be fully justified in accepting Hamas’ declaration and waging war right back at them. Because the words of a government mean a great deal more than the words of terrorists. The threats of a state are much more serious than those of a terrorist group.
And, perhaps, this would be a good thing, in the long run. The status quo has been going on too long, with people dying in drips and drabs for decades, little fits and starts of violence and death that in the end change everything. Perhaps a refresher to all parties just what war — real, declared, hard-fought war — tastes like will finally get the leaders — those that survive — to finally work out a settlement to this open sore on the world, one that has festered for almost 60 years.
Damn me for almost wishing for a war. And damn those people who let the situation get so bad, go so long, without resolution.