Keep the Gaza Ground Incursion Limited

The results of a large-scale offensive would be tragic.

An Israeli missile hits Palestinian buildings in Gaza City on July 17, 2014.
An Israeli missile hits Palestinian buildings in Gaza City on July 17, 2014. AFP

Despite mediation efforts from various regions of the globe and reports that talks on a cease-fire were nearing fruition, Operation Protective Edge has entered its 11th day and the Israel Defense Forces have begun a ground operation in the Gaza Strip. The ground operation was launched after Hamas rejected an Egyptian cease-fire proposal on Tuesday, then resumed its rocket fire on Israel at the end of Thursday’s humanitarian cease-fire and rejected yet another truce proposal.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his decision to take action against Hamas’ tunnels Thursday night. His stated intention is to conduct a limited operation. Yet the combination of Hamas’ incessant fire at Israeli cities, its attempt to carry out a mass-casualty attack at Kibbutz Sufa Thursday morning, the new crisis in the mediation efforts and war-mongering cabinet ministers such as Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Lieberman is liable to push the government into a large-scale ground operation whose results will be tragic.

Frustration over Hamas’ rejectionism must not translate into continued mass killings of civilians. To date, the operation has claimed the lives of 234 Palestinians, among them women and children. Various assessments put the proportion of “noncombatants” at 50 percent to 70 percent of all fatalities. These numbers indicate that the death of “noncombatants” from IDF fire is no exception.

The number of children who have been killed is particularly worrying. Thursday evening, four children were killed in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip – three members of the same family in Gaza City and a 4-year-old girl in Khan Yunis – just one day after the serious incident in which four children were killed when the navy shelled the Gaza coast.

Israel boasts of the fact that in contrast to Hamas, which commits war crimes by firing at a civilian population, it doesn’t deliberately target civilians or children. But the number of people killed to date, as well as the targets of the strikes – some of which are clearly civilian targets – arouse suspicions that in the current operation, the IDF is violating international conventions and the laws of war. The government, the legal system and the military all have a responsibility to put an end to this.