THE TIDE OF WAR IN GAZA…Israel Finally Retaliates Against Hamas’s Missile Attacks.

Here’s another post-election news flash: The tide of war is not receding. The latest Middle East flash point among so many is the Gaza Strip, where Israel on Wednesday launched retaliatory airstrikes on Hamas commanders and weapons storage sites.

The strikes were in response to the latest rocket fire from Gaza launched willy-nilly into southern Israel. Hamas has escalated its assaults, and in recent days the number of missile and mortar attacks has run into the dozens. It is only a matter of time before one of these attacks hits a school or shopping mall. Hamas’s missiles may be inaccurate but their goal is terror, especially against civilian targets, and their range is getting close to the suburbs of Tel Aviv.

One of the Israeli strikes killed Ahmed Jabari, the chief of Hamas’s military arm who is believed to be responsible for kidnapping Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Hamas promised to “open the gates of hell” in response, as if it already hasn’t. Israeli officials said if Hamas does escalate, its ground forces are prepared to move into Gaza as they did four years ago.

All of this is more dangerous than four years ago because the entire Middle East is so much less stable. Egypt, which recalled its ambassador to Israel Wednesday, is now run by the Muslim Brotherhood that sympathizes with Hamas. Syria’s civil war is spilling outside its borders. And Iran, which is Hamas’s main weapons supplier, is that much more brazen as it watches the U.S. care more about deterring an Israeli strike against Iran than stopping Iran from getting a weapon.

U.S. influence is ebbing in the region, and the local thugs are filling the vacuum. As that retreat continues, the Obama Administration needs to give Israel the material and diplomatic support to defend itself.

A version of this article appeared November 15, 2012, on page A18 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: The Tide of War in Gaza.

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