In recent weeks, the killing of three Israeli teenagers and one Palestinian teenager has created tensions unseen in Israel since Operation Pillar of Defense, if not the 2006 Lebanon War. Where do we go from here? The peace talks have failed, an Intifada may loom and the shadow of ISIS hangs over Jordan. The need to relinquish control of the West Bank becomes clearer, yet at the same time the security reasons for holding it become ever sharper. We feel we have reached the crossroads, so what next?
I believe Prime Minister Netanyahu must focus on the here and now. Forty one rockets have been fired over to Israel from the Gaza strip. In my opinion, no single responsible state would allow rockets to continuously be fired at its civilians. Naftali Bennett sums up the feelings of many I have spoken to during my time in Washington D.C. He said “restraint in the face of attacks on women and children is not strength. Restraint in the face of the execution of three children is weakness. The residents of the south are not second grade citizens.”
Action must be taken. Israel has given a 48 hour deadline, such deadlines must be seen to be serious in an increasingly unstable Middle East. We cannot show vulnerability at this time. Hamas must know that a Pillar of Defense style operation is not just on the table, but is inevitable should Hamas not back down in these skirmishes. Allowing the rockets to keep coming removes the deterrent that keeps organisations such as Hezbollah at bay.
We may as a country be blindly walking into an existential crisis. If the ISIS advance that we have seen over the past few weeks reached into Jordan and even the West Bank, Netanyahu’s perceived weakness will only encourage Israel’s enemies to take bolder and more audacious risks. The potentiality of a live threat on four fronts looms ever closer. An inadequate response to the ending of the quiet in the south sends out the wrong message at exactly the time Bibi should be sending the right one.
The time has come to break Hamas in Gaza, if the only way to stop rocket fire is by going in, so be it.