After a powerful Hamas rocket landed near Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, causing extensive damage to two houses, the FAA announced a 24-hour ban on flights to Tel Aviv. This is a huge win for Hamas, and means that any cease-fire in the short term would be a defeat for Israel.
There is some speculation that the Obama administration intended the FAA action as a way to put pressure on Israel to wind down its offensive. This is to be doubted, because the FAA is fairly independent, and in any case not even Obama’s national-security team is incompetent enough to pick a strategy so obviously counter-productive to its objective. The FAA ban dramatically raises the stakes in the fighting for Israel.
The Obama administration has been calling for a ceasefire on the basis of a return to the 2012 ceasefire. But now circumstances have changed, making such a cease-fire a terrible idea from Israel’s point of view. Hamas has just proven that its arsenal is powerful enough to shut down Israel’s air traffic with the outside world on a whim. Under these dramatically new circumstances, a ceasefire that lets Hamas keep its missile arsenal would be a significant defeat for Israel, and leave Hamas with enhanced power and prestige.
Many Israelis will now be concluding, correctly, that they must keep fighting until Hamas agrees to be disarmed of its missiles, or is disarmed by force. We should support that position.
Faced with a conflict like this, the Obama administration is programmed to call mindlessly for an “immediate ceasefire,” regardless of the strategic situation, and regardless of the impact on our allies. But Congress at the very least should be drafting a resolution expressing support for Israel’s use of whatever force is necessary to achieve the permanent and verifiable disarmament of Hamas’s missile arsenal.