Iran should remain the focus of Hamas’ October 7 massacre. All roads lead back to Iran, the chief state sponsor of terrorism in the world today. Although there are many differences in the hostage-taking of over 230 men, women, and children by Hamas and the Iranian Hostage Crisis of 1979, Iran made abduction and kidnapping a centerpiece of their operations.
On November 4, 1979, 52 American diplomats and citizens were taken hostage. After 444 days they were freed. It was not mere coincidence that they were released on the day that President Ronald Reagan was inaugurated on January 20, 1981. The hostage crisis was one of the reasons President Reagan defeated President Carter. President Reagan’s mantra was “Peace Through Strength.” The Iranians feared what President Reagan might do to them.
The hostage crisis brought on by Hamas’ vicious and brutal assault on Israel is more complex, but the approach has to be the same. Despite three weeks of heavy negotiations, only four hostages were released by Hamas. To take a “pause” after one week of a ground operation by Israel’s Defense Forces would not get many hostages released. It will just give Hamas more time to regroup. When Hamas’ back is against the wall, Hamas will release the hostages just as Iran did when Reagan became President.
In 2014, when Israel last sent in ground troops into Gaza, President Obama only allowed Israel to do a limited action lasting from August 7 to August 26. This was not enough time to do the job right. President Biden seemed to be on the same page with Prime Minister Netanyahu in the immediate aftermath of the October 7 slaughter by Hamas, but his request for a pause raises the question whether he is having second thoughts. A pause after one week of a ground operation will send the wrong message to both Hamas and Iran. Israel needs more time if Hamas is to be defeated decisively. Israel has tried the deterrence scenario not only in 2014 but also at the end of 2008 in Operation Cast Lead. The war lasted from Dec. 27 to January 18, 2009. Not coincidentally, President Obama was inaugurated on January 20, 2009.
It is my hope that President Biden will give Israel enough time so that the horror the world witnessed on October 7 will never happen again. A pause now will not achieve that objective.
Joseph M. Frager is a physician and lifelong activist.