U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who seldom says anything favorable about Israel or the United States - particularly when it involves the Palestinians - says it's "understandable" why Israelis "would want to go after those who kidnapped their soldier."
Fair enough. But then he adds that "it has to be done in such a way that civilian populations are not made to suffer."
That's ridiculous. Palestinian terrorists do not confront their enemy. They are cowards who hide behind their women's burqas and children's play-clothes - it's impossible to fight them, unfortunately, without harming some civilians.
The only other option is to let terrorist acts go unpunished, which is tantamount to unilateral disarmament - a nonstarter. Israel has every right, as all sovereign states do, to protect its citizenry. That's all it's been doing for decades, even as Palestinians reject one peace offer after another.
After Israelis unilaterally withdrew their forces from large sections of Gaza recently, the Palestinian people, instead of getting down to the hard business of governing themselves, elected Hamas - an Israeli-hating terrorist organization that takes much direction from Syria - to govern them.
The result of this excursion into anti-Israeli extremism was entirely predictable - plans for new attacks on Israelis, culminating in last week's sneak raid on an outpost near the Gaza Strip border, and the kidnapping of a young Israeli soldier.
Since then, Hamas has taken it on the chin - and deservedly so. Protected by air strikes, Israeli military units advanced into southern Gaza in a hunt to retrieve their kidnapped comrade. And after an especially bold move into the West Bank, Israelis detained more than 60 Hamas officials, including a host of high-level cabinet members and parliamentarians.
And just to make sure the decision-makers got the message, Israeli fighter planes buzzed the summer residence of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad; uneasy rests his crown.
To be sure, much of the world, including some Western European nations infamous for their appeasement policies, are much harsher on Israel than the Palestinians. But they are simply wrong.
Ehud Olmert has passed with flying colors his first major security test since being elected Israeli prime minister to replace the coma-stricken Ariel Sharon. So far at least, Olmert's courage, audacity and terrorist fighting policies would do his mentor proud.
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