Theres an ugly job to be done in Rafah

We’ve heard these words before from President Bush and others who preceded him — Israel “has every right to defend itself from terror.”

Bush uttered them again this week when he spoke before the annual policy conference of AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby, in Washington, D.C. But this time he made the comments while Israel was conducting what is considered to be the fiercest incursion into a Gaza refugee camp since 1967.

It’s not easy to sit in front of the TV and watch homes of Palestinians refugees being demolished, and read reports that more than 35 Palestinians were killed. Yes, we know that some of those killed are terrorists. Yes, we know that some of the homes demolished had hidden tunnels where weapons were imported from Egypt. But we also know that some of those killed or left homeless were innocent civilians.

That is why we must remind ourselves of all the bus bombings we have witnessed in Jerusalem, where carnage has been strewn on downtown streets. The children and working folks who died on those buses were innocent civilians as well.

The war being fought in Israel is not very different from the one the United States is fighting against world terrorism. But unlike our own country, Israel is the scene of almost constant terror attacks.

Israel moved into the Rafah refugee camp because militants were hiding there. Also, Israel wanted to demolish homes that concealed tunnels where weapons were being transported from a nearby town in Egypt that also is named Rafah.

The terrorists who killed 13 Israeli soldiers last week came from Gaza camps. The terrorists who eliminated a family May 2 by killing an Israeli mother and her four children also came from these camps. And many of the terrorists captured each week during their aborted attempts to sneak into Israel and wreak mayhem have also come from these camps.

That’s why Israel is doing a cleanup operation in Rafah. And this operation — like those our own country is involved in while fighting international terrorism — may be too aggressive, too heartless and too overwhelming for some of us to handle emotionally. Unfortunately, we are dealing with enemies who proclaim proudly that they love death more than they value life.

Both Israel and the United States have learned that in the Mideast it’s either kill or be killed as long as the war goes on. And every attempt to put a stop to the war has been met by tragedy after tragedy.

Let’s pray that Israel does what it needs to in Rafah and pulls out quickly. The one thing Israel doesn’t need is a home in Rafah like the home it had in southern Lebanon.