To be a missionary or a healthcare worker who tends to the poor has always required an admirable level of compassion, but now in West Africa it also requires remarkable courage.
An outbreak of the terrifying Ebola virus in several West African nations is putting those who care for its victims at great risk. Some, such as Liberia’s top health official, Dr. Samuel Brisbane, have already paid with their lives.
Others have contracted the disease and are struggling to survive. Two are Americans affiliated with the Boone-based missionary group Samaritan’s Purse.
One of them is Nancy Writebol of Charlotte. Writebol and her husband, David, had been working in Liberia and chose to stay on despite the Ebola threat.
Nancy Writebol, a hygienist, decontaminated those entering and leaving the Ebola care area at the hospital. She is now gravely ill and being treated in the Liberian capital of Monrovia. She is being kept in isolation, and her husband cannot directly comfort her.
Also infected is Dr. Kent Brantly, a 33-year-old medical director for the Ebola care center on the outskirts of Monrovia run by Samaritan’s Purse. Brantly of Fort Worth, Texas, is in serious condition but recognized his symptoms early and has a better chance of surviving. The highly contagious virus has killed nearly 700 people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone since the outbreak surfaced earlier this year.
In a painful contrast to the compassion and courage showed by Writebol and Brantly, fear of Ebola has panicked some local residents who blame health workers for the spread of the disease. Health workers have been threatened and blocked from entering some villages where infected people are.
Despite the threats of disease, Writebol and Brantly stayed to help. May their good deeds be matched by the good fortune of recovery.
— News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)
Hamas is worsening
When Hamas decided to initiate rocket attacks on Israel, it invited the furious reprisal that began earlier this month. Three times since 2006, Israel has responded to aerial assaults on its citizens with fierce counter-attacks, and each time the fighting has come to an inconclusive end that allows its enemies to replenish their arsenals and start planning for the next round.
For that reason, Israel’s Security Cabinet unanimously rejected a U.S. proposal for a ceasefire on Friday, though Israel agreed to a 12-hour pause for Saturday. The images from the funerals of Israeli troops are heart-rending. The scenes of horror and destruction in Gaza, gut-wrenching. No one could wish for the people of Gaza to endure prolonged misery.
But it was Hamas that wished for the fighting. First, by attacking Israel, and then by rejecting an Egyptian ceasefire proposal because it wanted its own narrow demands addressed first. That included lifting border restrictions and the release of dozens of former prisoners Israel rearrested in a crackdown on the West Bank after the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers.
Throughout the fighting, Hamas has used the civilian population of Gaza as hostages. That is one big reason the terrorist group has worn out its welcome there. It uses populated areas to fire deadly rockets into Israel. U.N. officials have also said they twice found Hamas using abandoned schools to conceal dozens of rockets.
The refusal to agree to a cease-fire more than one week ago, along with the discovery of an extensive network of tunnels leading into Israel, triggered the Israeli ground assault and the determination of its government to achieve a twofold aim: Destroy the tunnels and degrade Hamas’ arsenal to render it ineffective.
Without that, Hamas would be exposed as dangerous and useless. Its control of Gaza has only worsened the lives and prospects of Palestinians who live there.
Israel must be allowed to crush the threat from Hamas, not just for a few months or a year (the last ceasefire took effect in November 2012), but for the foreseeable future. The right of self-defense is not negotiable.
While it is putting an end to Hamas, Israel must also do a better job of avoiding civilian casualties. As mentioned earlier, Hamas thrives amid reports of the deaths of women and children under Israeli attacks. It’s an integral part of Hamas’ strategy. Thus, Israel has both a moral necessity to avoid civilian casualties and an enormous self-interest in ensuring that mistakes resulting in more civilian killings don’t happen.
Marginalizing Hamas and reducing its support among Palestinians is another strategic imperative.
The ultimate challenge for Israel is to help provide a better life for Palestinians in the West Bank, giving them a glimpse of a more-peaceful future — including the return of Mr. Abbas’ group to power in Gaza. That, of course, requires victory over Hamas and an end to its destructive power.
— Miami Herald