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WHEN THE POT in the Middle East begins to boil, the possibility of it spilling over into a larger conflict is alarming--alarming enough to send Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the area just before Thanksgiving to try to turn down the heat.
Rockets launched into Israel from militants in Gaza reached farther than they had ever reached before, to Tel Aviv, elevating the population at risk in Israel from tens of thousands to millions. Also, last week, warning sirens wailed in Jerusalem, heretofore not a target of Hamas attacks.
The make of the munitions reveals the real heart of the problem: Unlike the "homemade" Qassam missiles the Palestinians typically fire, Tel Aviv was hit by the longer-range Fajr 5 missile--stamped "Made in Iran."
Iran admits its involvement. "We are proud to defend the people of Palestine and Hamas, Our assistance to them has been both financial and military," Ali Larijani, speaker of the Iranian Parliament, boasted. Iran has, of course, vowed to wipe Israel off the map; its overt involvement in Palestine reveals the great danger of a nuclear Iran.
Israel has reacted to the nearly nonstop attacks from Gaza by bombing Hamas positions, killing more than 150 Palestinians, including many civilians. That is tragic. But Israel has a right to defend itself, and Hamas militants often stage their rocket launchers next to schools or mosques, using civilians as shields.
Israel lives in a tough neighborhood. Anyone who thinks that Middle East peace can be won without a show of strength from Israel is naive--likewise anyone who thinks Iran's nuclear program is intended for non-military uses. The kettle boils and sounds the alarm. A bad business--but one that must in time be dealt with.