Helen Joyce

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

I received an email from a cousin in the US in which she expressed her concern for us here in Israel and asked my opinion: should Israel mount a ground invasion of Gaza, or not. Like all of us she is perplexed because Israel will be damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Literally, we are between the devil and the deep-blue sea.

Of course, there are no easy answers. If – when – we go in, it will be at a terrible cost not only to Hamas but to ourselves, possibly the hostages and also to the population of Gaza.

In my opinion we have little choice. We must go in. It will be awful and in my view should not be motivated out of revenge. That should have no place in the decision making. An eye for an eye leads to blindness all round!

There are many reasons for a ground offensive. We should destroy Hamas. We cannot leave this genocidal Islamist organisation with any military capability on our doorstep. It is no longer an option. We have repeatedly tried and failed to cripple Hamas. However we have only succeeded only in giving them an occasional bloody nose and settling for a couple of years of relative quiet. This is the main military objective, but I am not sure that even this is the main reason.

We want to release our hostages. Of course. Whether we will succeed is impossible to know. Failure seems even likelier given the savagery of their captors. But should we try? I believe so. But this is definitely not the main reason as military attempts to free them may well misfire.

Nor is this about some pie-in-the sky notion of a ‘war of liberation’ for Gazans – although God knows they need it and the civilian population is also being held as an ongoing hostage to Hamas.

In my view the main reason is quite different. Israel is an island somewhere between the devil and the deep blue sea. The population of the southern communities – now brutalised and destroyed – have become refugees in their own country. Towns and communities in the north are also being evacuated as we wait to see whether Hezbollah will join the party once the real action starts. There are estimates that there will be as many as 200,000 internally displaced refugees. Everyone in the centre is hosting families from somewhere.

If military engagement is limited to air strikes as past engagements have been, what are we saying to all these civilians?   They need their homes back. They need their lives back. They need their loved ones back. What does this mean for the survival of the State of Israel.

This is existential. Those who parade in demonstrations yelling ‘free Palestine’ are, whether they realise it or not, actually screaming ‘kill the Jews’. From the river to the sea means: wipe us out. This is not about occupation. Nothing was occupied until they declared war on us and lost. Again. And again. And again. And nothing would be occupied if every offer of negotiated withdrawal and peace had not been rejected. Starting with the UNSCOP partition plan of 1948 which would have provided a ‘two state solution’ from the start. This is not about Palestine. This is about the destruction of Israel. Jihad pure and simple. This is about genocide.

And that’s why – however costly  – we must try and destroy Hamas’ military capability once and for all. And that can only happen on the ground.

It will be terrible because there is a city under the city. It will be bloody for everyone, yes, including the population of Gaza. But this is war. If we are to retain the integrity of Israeli sovereignty, we really have no other choice.

So we will likely fight on and under the ground and, after it’s over, hopefully heal and regroup. Jews and Israelis are nothing if not resilient. We have faith. The God of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.

About the Author
Helen is the author of award-winning Good for a Single Journey, a four generational family saga based on a true story, published by Amsterdam Publishers in 2023. Born in London to Jewish refugees from Hitler, Helen studied Psychology at University College London and went on to specialise in clinical research and relationship counselling. She taught Psychology in Immanuel College, Bushey where she was Head of Sixth Form (Grades 12 and 13). Helen retired to Israel in 2013.
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