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Morning Glory: What ‘Masters of the Air’ teaches about Israel’s war

If you watch the nine-part series ‘Masters of the Air’ on Apple+ you may not notice that it does not spend much time on the civilian casualties brought about by the unrelenting air war waged by the Allies against the Axis in World War II.

The series was produced by Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks, and Steven Spielberg and you will be satisfied at the conclusion of the episodes which are based on the bestseller of the same name by Donald L. Miller. The first few episodes are not for the faint of heart, but neither were any Army Air Corps bombing missions over Europe in World War II.

There are some moments in the course of the series when the viewer glimpses the utter devastation of the bombing of first France and then Germany. The Wehrmacht troops and German civilians are seen repeatedly referring to downed American airmen as ‘terror bombers’ and no doubt the German civilians of 1943-1945 thought of the Army Air Corps and the Royal Air Force in just those terms because precision munitions had not been invented and the dumping of ‘dumb bombs’ was effective only in part, even with technology advances in our bombers sights.

The people of the United States, though, did not worry about hardships visited upon ‘innocent Germans.’ Had Joseph Goebbels put out newsreels featuring Herman Goering complaining about the devastation of civilian neighborhoods in Berlin brought about by Allied bombers, such propaganda would have elicited first enormous scorn and then calls for doubling down on the tonnage of bombs dropped. Millions of Germans were killed or injured because of the war begun by Hitler, and the same is true of Japanese civilians killed by the Allied bombings of the Japanese home islands: the rulers of Imperial Japan brought that upon themselves.

When the United States joined in the international effort to destroy ISIS which culminated in the battle of Mosul which took nine months, from October of 2016 through July of 2017, thousands of innocent Iraqis were killed in that battle which included American air strikes. Again, that terror group had to be destroyed. The inevitable byproduct of war in any urban setting is the death and wounding of civilians. And as with the German, Italian and Japanese aggressors of World War II, ISIS began the war which ended in the destruction of much of Mosul.

Now that the battlefield is the Gaza Strip and specifically the city of Rafah, however, intense pressure is being brought to bear on the Israel Defense Forces (‘IDF’) to limit or even vault their offensive as a result of ‘reports’ of casualties in Gaza put out by Hamas. Neither Israel nor any third party has anything like an exact figure of civilians killed or wounded in the war in Gaza. We cannot believe the Hamas numbers. What we do know is that Israel has no choice but to prosecute the war in Gaza until Hamas is destroyed, it’s senior leadership dead or fled, and a semblance of security returned to the people of Israel.

The mask came off Hamas on 10/7. For 17 years, Israel pursued a policy of co-existence with the terror organization that controlled everything in the Gaza Strip, with Israeli government after government counting on the evolution of Hamas into a governing authoritarian regime but not one devoted to massacring Jews. Now we know that Hamas, whatever else it says or does, is a death cult. If allowed to remain in Gaza in any significant size and with its underground fortress intact, it will be a matter of time until Hamas unleashes another wave of horrific barbarism. This is why Monday’s statement by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warning Israel against a major ground operation in Rafah makes no sense. Sullivan spoke of alternatives to such an operation but did not detail those alternatives. We have to suspect that Sullivan knows there is no alternative to the brutal tunnel battles ahead unless Sinwar and his fellow Hamas leaders arrange for their evacuation to their paymasters’ home in Iran.

The reliable estimates of Hamas terrorists who are cornered in Rafah and in the warrens of tunnels built over a decade and a half is 10,000 or more. Israel must absolutely enter and subdue all of Rafah, must absolutely map and destroy the underground fortress, and must re-take the ‘Philadelphi Corridor’ between Gaza and Egypt to prevent the reconstruction of tunnels used to smuggle the mind-boggling amount of weaponry that Hamas amassed in Gaza since Israel withdrew from the Strip in 2005.

There is no alternative for Israel unless it wants to wait for another massacre. Enormous majorities of Israelis want the war in Gaza prosecuted until the defeat of Hamas is complete.  When first President Joe Biden in his State of the Union and then Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on the floor of the Senate attacked Israel over the past two weeks, they did so for their own selfish domestic political reasons. The president’s abysmal approval ratings and Schumer’s desire to remain the leader of Senate Democrats both required at least rhetorical blasts at Israel and its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in order to satisfy the left edge of the Democratic coalition.

These rhetorical attacks were gifts to Hamas terrorists hiding in their tunnels and hoping that somehow the world—read ‘the United States’—forces Israel to stop its drive to destroy Hamas. Instead of urging Israel to move quickly to end the war via victory, Biden and Schumer instead appear to want the IDF to camp outside Rafah and…wait? For what?

There is no grand strategy in the criticisms of Israel from Biden, Schumer and the even harder left members of the Democratic Party. But the blowback —from Israel, from the American Jewish community, and from Americans who stand with Israel as a reliable ally and a democratic state—directed at both men has been intense. It is hard to fall off the ‘favorability floor’ that Biden has hit but he is doing his best to test the depths those numbers can reach.

After the Second World War the Allies did what they needed to do to rehabilitate Germany and Japan, and both countries are now solidly within the Western alliance. It is possible that a Gaza without Hamas could reach the potential of any major metropolitan region on the Mediterranean coast. But only if the future leadership of the Strip want economic growth and human flourishing there, which Hamas does not seek.

The IDF does not welcome civilian casualties in Gaza anymore than American pilots and crews wanted their bombs to hit other than the intended targets. Certainly Israel is not approving anything approaching the Tokyo firebombing of March 1945 where 100,000 civilians are believed to have perished.

The war in Gaza must, however, be won by Israel and the only reason there is a war at all is because of Hamas. Only the end of Hamas in Gaza —which means a ground operation in Rafah—will bring peace to that devastated region. What President Biden and Senator Schumer should be doing is standing resolutely behind our ally. Every day, all day. 

Hugh Hewitt is one of the country’s leading journalists of the center-right. A son of Ohio and a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Michigan Law School, Hewitt has been a Professor of Law at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law since 1996, where he teaches Constitutional Law. Hewitt launched his eponymous radio show from Los Angeles in 1990, and it is today syndicated to hundreds of stations and outlets across the country every Monday through Friday morning. Hewitt has frequently appeared on every major national news television network, hosted television shows for PBS and MSNBC, written for every major American paper, authored a dozen books and moderated a score of Republican candidate debates, most recently the November 2023 Republican presidential debate in Miami and four Republican presidential debates in the 2015-16 cycle. Hewitt focuses his radio show and this column on the Constitution, national security, American politics and the Cleveland Browns and Guardians. Hewitt has interviewed tens of thousands of guests from Democrats Hillary Clinton and John Kerry to Republican Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump over his 40 years in broadcast, and this column previews the lead story that will drive his radio show today.

This post appeared first on FOX NEWS

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