ANALYSIS / Israel should have embraced UN's Gaza truce proposal
Continuing the Gaza op is a gamble for Israel, which increasingly looks like a madman who has lost it.
The cries of disappointment sounding from the offices of the prime minister, the foreign minister and the defense ministry in Tel Aviv are unjustified. But even worse is the government's decision to reject the UN cease-fire proposal and press on with the 15-day-old offensive in the Gaza Strip.
The cease-fire proposal that the UN Security Council approved Friday morning is more than reasonable, despite Israel's hope for another U.S. veto. It's a shame that Israel has decided, for now, to ignore it. A cease-fire - any cease-fire - is good and preferable to any war or battle.
Israel should have been satisfied with the proposal. It comprises the elements that would establish Israel's unofficial but obvious goals, the goals in the name of which it has sent its soldiers into Gaza: Ceasing the rocket fire into Israel and halting the weapons smuggling from Sinai into the Gaza Strip.
Israel should have happily accepted the cease-fire proposal - and not just as the best option out of a bad lot. Israel must refrain from being perceived as blood-thirsty and eager to continue this cruel war. It has already caused massive damage in Gaza. Hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed, as the death toll reached 800 Palestinian casualties Friday, of which less than 200 are Hamas militants according to IDF officials.
Israel has demolished hundreds of homes and destroyed Gaza's infrastructure, which is awful to begin with. It will take years to repair this damage.
Israel faces more risks in continuing this war. It has somehow managed not to evoke exceptional rage from the international community over the UNRWA school bombing that killed dozens of Palestinian refugees. It is highly unlikely that Israel will be able to withstand international criticism should another event like this, or worse, happen. If it does, even Israel's allies and those who were secretly willing to support Israel's efforts to harm Hamas (like certain Arab states) will turn their back on it.
Now Israel also risks making the same mistake as it did in Lebanon. After a cease-fire agreement had already been drafted, Israel requested and received U.S backing to suspend the agreement by an additional day, during which the fighting continued and dozens of IDF troops were killed in unnecessary battles.
It is doubtful that Israel will succeed in achieving what it hasn't accomplished during 12 days of battle, even if the fighting continues for two or three days or even another week. Israel has created an image of itself of a madman that has lost it. It has done so in the hopes that Hamas and perhaps Hezbollah and Iran will get the message and understand that they are better off not trying Israel's patience.
Israel has displayed its decisiveness through firm public support for what was considered a justified war and a strong home front.
That should be enough to show its power of deterrence. And if that doesn't help, there's always the option of renewing battles.