DAILY MAIL COMMENT: World holds its breath for Israel's revenge

DAILY MAIL COMMENT: World holds its breath for Israel’s revenge

After a week of bestial carnage and bloody reprisal, the world holds its breath for the next deadly phase of Israel’s new all-out war against Hamas.

Enraged by the pitiless massacre of 1,300 of its civilians, Israel has laid siege to the terrorists’ base in the Gaza Strip, blocking supplies of food, water and fuel.

Yesterday, the Jewish state warned all non-combatants to leave northern Gaza, where Hamas is concentrated, in anticipation of a full ground invasion.

Meanwhile, scattered around the 140 square-mile enclave under armed guard are some 100 terrified hostages, whose lives hang by a thread.

Israel says it will not lift the siege or stop rocket attacks until they are released. Hamas says it will start executing them in retaliation for air strikes that kill civilians.

Given the level of depravity shown by Hamas in last Saturday’s lightning attacks – babies slaughtered, women raped then shot, some victims reportedly beheaded – there is no room for negotiation.

As it has before, Israel will meet fire with fire. Its people are in no doubt that this is a fight they must win. A fight against unalloyed evil. A fight for survival.

Smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike on the seventh day of the clashes in Rafah, Gaza

Palestinians look for survivors after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip

The speed and sincerity with which Rishi Sunak condemned Hamas as terrorists and offered Britain’s support to Israel was welcomed not just by the Jewish community but by the vast majority of this country

Once again, the Middle East stares into the abyss and the sense of foreboding is palpable. But this was also a week where we learned things about ourselves.

The speed and sincerity with which Rishi Sunak condemned Hamas as terrorists and offered Britain’s support to Israel was welcomed not just by the Jewish community but by the vast majority of this country.

His forthrightness contrasted starkly with the craven Football Association, which refused to show solidarity by lighting up the Wembley arch in Israel’s colours for fear of a ‘backlash’.

Instead, it issued a trite statement deploring violence on all sides, as if there were some sort of equivalence between Hamas and the democratically elected Israeli government.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the Israel-Palestine conflict, the atrocities committed by Hamas were simply beyond the pale of civilised behaviour.

Civilians are often collateral casualties of war, but this was deliberate, cold-blooded butchery, which no compassionate human being should ever condone or excuse.

Yet sadly, for some in our country, mainly anti-Semites on the Left and pro-Palestine Islamists, it was cause for jubilation. They were literally dancing in the streets in celebration of mass murder.

Vile anti-Jewish slogans shouted by protesters at the Israeli embassy in London. Palestinian supporters tearing down posters of kidnapped babies in London’s Oxford Street and Mornington Crescent. Jewish businesses vandalised and schools closing for fear of harassment.

People evacuate Gaza City following an Israeli warning of increased military operations in the Gaza strip

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City earlier this week 

In universities, too, once bastions of tolerance and true diversity, anti-Semitism seems sadly to be alive and growing.

This is a free country, in which people are allowed to demonstrate and express their beliefs. It is not illegal to criticise Israel or its policies, or indeed to support the creation of a Palestinian state.

But when such beliefs bleed into bigotry, hatred and intimidation they shatter all conceptions of decency. They are also against the law and those espousing them should face arrest and trial.

Equally, Israel has every right to defend its people and its borders against an implacable and murderous enemy.

But in their understandable urge to destroy Hamas they should also show a degree of restraint and do everything possible to minimise civilian casualties.

They have the sympathy of many millions around the world. Hamas will have no qualms about putting women and children in harm’s way to shift that perception.

If Israel is too indiscriminate in its vengeance, it risks falling into their trap.

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