Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu,
Do you remember your words in January 2009? Maybe it would do some good to remind you. Your criticism of the cease fire that ended Operation Cast Lead was harsh, and deservedly so. In case you have forgotten, your exact words were as follows: “We won’t stop the IDF. We’ll cause the collapse of the terrorist government (in Gaza).” Was that simply hollow rhetoric? Talk is cheap, Mr. Prime Minister.
In the years that have passed since Cast Lead, you were elected to the position of Prime Minister. Now, as head of the governing coalition, you have had the opportunity to follow through on your promise and destroy the terrorist government in Gaza once and for all. You were given not one chance, but two, and you failed miserably both times. Five years, and two military operations in Gaza, later, Hamas has been further entrenched as the Gaza government as their military capabilities have grown to unprecedented levels. You have, twice, allowed Hamas to declare victory against the mighty Israeli Defense Forces – giving them unprecedented popularity on the Palestinian street. By negotiating with Hamas (on numerous occasions) you have granted them a sort of international legitimacy that they could only dream about a number of years ago. The disastrous policies of your government have placed millions of Israelis at risk of becoming victims of Hamas terror. The man who campaigned as “Mr. Security” has turned out to simply be “Mr. Cease Fire”.
Mr. Prime Minister, you had your first chance in 2012. When Israel embarked on Operation Pillar of Defense, Hamas was still relatively weak (compared to today). Their tunnel infrastructure was not yet completed. Their rockets, while numerous, consisted of mostly crude, short-range, weapons. Their collection of medium or long range rockets that could threaten Israel’s major population centers was still in its infancy, containing- at most- dozens of missiles. In response to the rocket fire, you embarked on a restrained air campaign against terror targets in the Gaza Strip. After eight days, you practically surrendered. You “negotiated” a cease fire with Hamas that gave in to their demands. You allowed them to rearm – this time with more dangerous and sophisticated weapons- and finish their network of terror tunnels. The agreement brought Hamas onto the world stage as a major international player and solidified their support among Palestinians. It also flew in the face of the official Israeli policy of refusing to negotiate with terrorists. This colossal failure of policy has brought us to the present and Operation Protective Edge.
While it is impossible to completely understand the implications of Operation Protective Edge at this time, it is clear, Mr. Netanyahu, that you have proven yourself to be a weak leader. From day one, you have been practically begging for a cease fire – and have even tried to sideline your coalition partners to advance this goal. It is very telling that Finance Minister Yair Lapid – head of the Yesh Atid party and member of your security cabinet – has found himself learning about developments in the war through Hamas sources as you have kept him, and your other cabinet members, in the dark. He and the other cabinet ministers (and you, yourself) have declared numerous times that the only acceptable endgame for Israel is a demilitarized Gaza. The status quo vis a vis Hamas cannot continue. Nonetheless, for all intents and purposes, you are “negotiating” just that – an agreement based on the 2012 cease fire that allowed Hamas to acquire better weapons, build their terror infrastructure and prepare for the next round of fighting. The results of the 2012 agreement can best be understood through the deaths of 64 of our brave soldiers, and hundreds of wounded, who made their sacrifices in order to rectify your mistake of two years ago. If you agree to a status quo agreement without the complete disarmament of Gaza terror groups, their deaths will have been in vain, and much more blood will be shed the next time around. And make no mistake, there will be another round – maybe in a year, maybe two or maybe five.
Mr. Prim Minister, I have often seen you compare yourself to the venerable Winston Churchill. I ask you, then, this: Would Churchill have agreed to a cease fire that allowed the Nazis to re-arm and regroup only to continue the war at the time and place of their choosing? Of course not. Your actions have proven you to be more like the appeaser, Chamberlin. I understand that you are under significant pressure. The international community wants you to stop the war in Gaza. That is their prerogative, but they did not elect you. Your only responsibility, as Prime Minister of Israel, is to the nation of Israel and the Israeli people. You still have a chance, Mr. Netanyahu, to rectify these errors and be a true champion for the Israeli people. The decisions you make in the coming days will decide how you will be judged by history. Do you want to be remembered as Churchill or as Chamberlin?
A Concerned Citizen