Israel has not only the right but the obligation to protect its citizens from Hamas-launched rocket attacks that now have targeted Tel Aviv and Jerusalem ("A dangerous turning point in Israel," July 7). If Hamas wants to call an end to the now developing war and avoid further casualties, all it needs to do is to stop the rocket attacks and declare that no further ones will ensue — in contrast to the 400 fired in three days.

When Hamas, now part of the unity government of the Palestinian Authority, decided to shower all of Israel with long range rockets, it changed the conflict from confrontation to war. To prevent the constant rocket attacks and the hourly interference with normal life, Israel had no option but to respond, and forcibly.

Unfortunately for the civilian population of Gaza, its ruling faction of Hamas has opted to launch rocket attacks from the midst of the people of Gaza and to hide the perpetrators among the civilians, a cowardly act that has been opposed by international bodies. Civilian casualties, along with those of the Hamas terrorists, is the price to be paid. War is war, and the Hamas instigators should suffer along with the general populace which incidentally approved of their actions by vote and by demonstrations. Incidentally, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has not condemned his partner Hamas for the rocket attacks but only Israel for its counter measures.

Nelson Marans, Silver Spring

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