Emanuel Shahaf

Gaza, deja-vu all over again, again

Rarely has a government exercised such a total lack of creativity when facing a pervasive threat to its citizens as the government of Israel has in our conflict vis-a-vis Gaza. The population living in the areas surrounding the Gaza strip has been under rocket and mortar bombardment for years except for rare and temporary lulls, the threat remains and is increasing. The rockets are getting bigger, more accurate and multiple barrages have become more frequent.

One would think that the government would have made an effort to find a permanent solution to remove the threat but for some reason, and I venture to guess that the social and economic make-up of the population in the South has something to do with it, nothing of the sort has happened. All the government has done is improve active and passive protection of the threatened areas. While the protection is welcome, it is hugely expensive, does little to calm the population and and even less to prevent the attacks.

The government is dealing (or rather not dealing) with the threat by letting the military handle it. What does the military do best? Shoot. Does that help? No, but it certainly looks impressive and proves that we are doing something. Does Hamas get the message? No, apparently they don’t interpret our regular shooting as being a serious enough statement. Can we do something really nasty, like “Cast Lead” again? Probably not, since we don’t have the international backing we had then. Why don’t we have international backing? Because we have, for all intents and purposes abandoned the peace process. Can’t we do it without international backing? We can try but it won’t be a pretty picture. We will probably have to stop operations or withdraw before having made a real impact or else the EU or the US or the UN or all of these, all nitpicking ant-Semites, will gang up on us and censure us.

Spokepersons for the government and former army people express themselves as if there is solid evidence that repeated attacks against those who fire and control the rockets will do the job. Of course, there is no such evidence, to the contrary. Does that make the decision makers think again? No, it doesn’t. Why not? Because they live in a different world. Mainly, they don’t live in the areas threatened by rockets. They think that talking tough and shooting will impress the people who suffer daily. Well, the people aren’t impressed and they are certainly in their rights as citizens to demand a cogent policy and a total cessation of the rocket firings.

What could a cogent policy look like? The Gaza strip has to be seen in context – it’s not Gaza alone, it’s Gaza and Egypt, Gaza and Turkey, Gaza and Lebanon, Gaza and the Palestinian authority and Gaza and Iran. To defuse this powder-keg, Israel has to act in that context. It has to reestablish its strategic ties with Turkeys; it has to renew the peace process with the Palestinian Authority; it has to reengage with the European Union in a positive way and last not least it has to be a positive partner to the US in advancing US interests in the area. To pound Gaza with artillery and from the air without providing a way out through a relevant political process is useless, will only serve to strengthen our enemies and will do nothing to stop the rockets.

 This article was published word by word on 12th November  2012, by TOI.

About the Author
The author served in the Prime Minister’s Office as a member of the intelligence community, is Vice Chairman of the Israel-Indonesia Chamber of Commerce, Vice-Chairman of the Israeli-German Society (IDG), Co-Chair of the Federation Movement (, member of the council at and author of "Identity: The Quest for Israel's Future".