Exactly three weeks ago, I wrote an article about Gaza. It was a thousand words in length. I never published it. I knew that even though the situation was getting worse, the explanations I want to share with you needed extreme events to occur to be meaningful.
Today, we have “context” and a need to understand the complexities of what the government of Israel is facing. As I write, the IDF has reported that 370 missiles have been fired at Israel since yesterday. The Times of Israel today reports that 70 were fired after midnight with 100 intercepted by the Iron Dome system in Israel.
The Iron Dome is used only when it detects that the missiles will actually land in a populated area. Obviously, some of the missiles got through and did damage as intended. Our enemies know that if they send volumes of rockets at one time, there will a few which will reach their mark. Israel has retaliated with massive strength… destroying critical targets such as the Gaza television center (purported to be a conduit from Iran to Hamas operatives), and three tunnels under construction intent on creating underground entrances into Israel so that Hamas could kill more Israeli citizens. Some Hamas leaders were targeted and eliminated. There is more punishment to be delivered and both sides are threatening escalation.
The problem is clear. Many will die. Hamas does not care. Israel does. This is the perpetual contrast of values which hounds the decision-makers of our government. The Israeli government’s first concern is the survival and protection of us, their citizens. But it does care that innocents are collateral damage on the Gaza side. Hamas wants a high body count and guarantees their goal with the use of civilians as human shields. The horrific truth is that they choose to bring it on themselves and will have many funerals as a result. It should not be a numbers game. We do not win if we count less funerals than they have. They however, will feel that they have won, if they have more slaughtered than we. The insanity of their definition of success is beyond the comprehension of normal-thinking human beings.
Hamas began with fire kites to burn Israeli land, and then sent thousands to breech Israeli borders in order to attempt to enter Israel to murder its citizens. All the while that this has been going on, they have essentially immersed themselves in a different kind of war with Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. Abbas and the P.A. deny the people of Gaza the funds they have been given by world powers which are intended to pay Gaza’s civic employees, their utilities and their food suppliers. The PLO keeps the Gazans impoverished and suffering. This power was given to the PLO at the Oslo Paris Accords in 1994 which dealt with the protocols for economic relations between Israel and the Palestinians. All funds to help Palestinians must be funneled through the Palestinian Authority in order to reach any Arabs under their control. How is it that an International conference is not being held to make null and void the power given to the PA at Oslo, which they abuse daily? Oslo was a failure. Its treaties are a failure and need to be voided. Holding on to the illusion that Abbas (as the anointed follower of Arafat) is the visionary who will bring a peaceful solution in the endless conflict is an absurdity which requires a modicum of honesty on the part of world leaders.
Qatar just delivered $15 million in aid directly to Gaza to help pay those not being properly paid by the PA. This negotiated payment with the help of Egypt and Israel did not improve matters, but has somehow fueled their anger at Israel. How is it that Qatar found a way around the Paris protocols? How is it that these rockets are not reigning directly down on the Palestinian Authority who deny them the aid they are entitled to? In fact, Mahmoud Abbas is sitting in his office celebrating at what he has brought to a head. Deny your enemy basic needs, watch them mobilize and become violent against your mutual enemy. Do nothing yourself. Take no risk…just sit back and watch the chaos you have brought forth. And all of this… with the blessings of an Oslo accord that has proven worthless except for giving Fatah…i.e. the Palestinian Authority total and complete control with nothing required of them in return. Mr. Abbas is smacking his lips with joy. Whilst the polls tell us that his people have no respect for him and his popularity is at an all time low… he has more power and success than ever. It is all political insanity which has brought us to the brink of another war.
The press conference offered a few weeks ago at the Jerusalem Press Club with Dr. Eram Lerman analyzing the situation from every angle was more than worthwhile. Dr. Lerman was deputy minister of Foreign Affaires at the Prime Minsiter’s office , a Colonel in the IDF, a university speaker and Vice President of the Jerusalem Institute of Strategic Affaires. He explained that on the one hand Israel was even then (three weeks ago) close to the end of its patience with the Gaza assaults, but on the other hand there were many ramifications of retaliatory action which needed to be considered at that time.
This is an example of theory vs reality. In the comfort of academia, one can analyze how much it would take to force Israel’s hand to further combat. The fire kites were not enough. No doubt Israel will solve that issue quite soon. It solved the seemingly impossible task of finding underground tunnels … Israeli brilliance will resolve each creative and horrific assault. The assault on our territorial borders was being “managed “When hundreds of missiles are thrust upon us, the time for philosophizing comes to an end. Inaction is no longer an option. Restraint is not called for. Israel is suffering and its citizens are waiting for decisive action.
Certain realities do exist which we need to consider. As armchair generals, we can scream at the television that Israel should enter Gaza and “finish the job.” As realists, we need to understand just what that would entail. We are quite capable of re-entering Gaza and re-occupying it. What then? After hundreds of body bags return home, and many more funerals with wailing mothers and children on the other side… Israel would be left once again with an untenable situation. We don’t want Gaza. We don’t want the Gazan population. We don’t want our boys dying every day as they did before on the other side of the Gaza border.
Dr. Lerman tried to explain to the international press that the Israeli public understands war and loss. It is prepared to sacrifice its sons and daughters in battle, if the battle is existential. If in fact there is a possibility that the citizens inside the State of Israel could be attacked ”en masse”- Israeli citizens are ready to give their lives for their families and friends. What they are not prepared to do, he explained, is to watch daily death tolls as a result of an occupation of a territory which we do not want-and where our soldiers will be daily targets to no positive end. Hamas will not change its goals. The Palestinian Authority keeps its Arab internal, enemy hungry and suffering. Hamas feels have nothing to lose, while we everything have to lose. Their only cause is the battle. It has no end for them. It is simply their purpose to their lives. There is no concern for the innocents caught in the middle. There is also no possibility that they will win their ultimate goal. The world needs to understand that Hamas has no intention to create any form of peace-ever. The Palestinian Authority is quite happy to sit back and watch them self-destruct. Israel has no option but to hit back with massive force. What it must not do…is enter their territory. It would be a repeat of a tale already told with no positive result.
Whilst none of this is the fault of President Donald Trump, it is time that even he stops pretending that he has “the deal of a lifetime” for the Palestinians. They are simply not interested.
Even those who feel sympathy for the people under the control of Hamas, must be asking themselves what kind of evil perpetrates such acts knowing full well that absolutely nothing will be accomplished except more death. The only explanation is that “death” to Hamas is not a negative as it is to those of us from Western cultures. It is instead, a yardstick of their success. Both sides pay the ultimate price while the rest of the world pretends that Peace is a possibility.