It is a terrible, terrible price to pay, and it would be grotesque to suggest that Israel could be the salvation of the Palestinian people, but the truth is that as long as Hamas is in power, they will live in desperate circumstances. As long as theirs is a government that prioritizes uncompromising jihad against Israel; a government that commandeers all of its people’s resources towards that end—resources which otherwise could be directed towards building both social and physical infrastructure, towards improving the lives of its citizens—Palestinian lives will remain hopelessly miserable. As long as those very lives are commandeered as a tactical weapon to shield the lives of Hamas fighters, the bloodshed will be without end and there will be no better future on the horizon.
How could it be otherwise?
Israel is not going anywhere. We have nowhere to go. As long as Hamas is in power and denies our right to exist there is no coexistence. It is a fight for survival. It is them or us. And both the Palestinian and Israeli people are paying a perpetual price.
And in spite of that, I am praying—I am on my knees begging heaven, hope against hope—that Israel should focus all of its energies on returning the hostages and not initiate a full-fledged ground incursion in order to achieve it.
There is no winning this war. Not for Israel and not for Hamas. The question is, how many will die, how badly will we lose and what will be the moral cost of that inevitable loss.
There is no eradicating Hamas. Even if we manage to decimate its leadership its spirit will live on. And what will follow?Islamic Jihad? Re-occupation? There is no acceptable endgame. There are two immovable objects. With no peace possible, a state of war will remain.
Yes, we are and will remain, for the foreseeable future, at war with Hamas. That is the bitter truth. Given that reality, Israel must do a better job of protecting its citizens. It will take both political courage and disciplined implementation of military wisdom. The current government is capable of neither.
7/10 should never have happened. Hamas is fully responsible for its atrocities. There is no earthly excuse, no matter how twisted, that justifies that barbarism. But Israel’s current government opened the door. They might as well have invited them in. Both military ineptitude and political shortsightedness—a drastic understatement—laid the groundwork. The government’s focus was everywhere but where it should have been. Rather than concentrate on adequate defense and a path to peace, it was focused on nationalistic aspirations and political expediency. Both derive directly from the catastrophic failings of a corrupt and incompetent prime minister under criminal indictment; a flawed man whose only aim is to remain in power and out of jail. In pursuit of those ends he built a government of messianic extremists who insist on living everywhere at war rather than somewhere in peace, religious fanatics who, for the most part, do not contribute to either the economy or the defense of the State, and third rate or inexperienced military leaders whose mediocrity does not threaten Netanyahu’s authority. He instigated a plan to undermine democracy and divide the country. His catastrophic quest for personal survival is in parallel to and no less singular than Hamas’s crusade for Israel’s destruction. Hand in hand, they have led us to disaster. Both have blood on their hands.
Pain and suffering are not fungible but, clearly, Gazans are paying a higher price in blood and treasure. Hamas is responsible for the lion’s share of the tragedy. A world that sees only Israel’s contribution is a world of antisemites and a self defining raison d’etre for the State of Israel. It’s time for it to stop. We have all payed a terrible price.
For now, the best we can hope for is to stop the ground incursion, return the hostages, restore humanitarian relief for the Gazans, integrate military lessons learned to fortify Israel’s defenses, and replace Netanyahu’s government. All five goals are crucial for Israel’s future. Sadly, Gazans are in the hands of Hamas who will continue to use them as pawns. Only the Gazans themselves can change that. It is the responsibility of Israel’s government to provide an effective deterrent to Hamas and defense for its citizens which, as much as possible, spares the lives of innocent Gazans.
While it might mitigate the current bloodshed, none of this alone is likely to usher in a substantially better future, especially for the Palestinians, but it might help create an environment in which it is still possible to dream of one. Of course, it will take so much more—maybe unimaginably more—especially in resurrecting the two-state solution which requires two participants willing to abandon a claim to victory for the sake of a chance for peace. Hand in bloody hand.