Jaime Kardontchik

Is a truce with Hamas really necessary?

There was a truce in effect on October 6, 2023. Hamas violated it by invading the southern Israel towns on October 7th, killing, raping, and burning more than 1,000 Israelis, and dragging back to Gaza another 250 hostages.

There was a truce in May 2021. Hamas violated it, by launching thousands to rockets towards Israeli cities, southern and coastal cities, beginning another conflagration with Israel.

This pattern of Hamas violating truces at the time of its choice, has been repeated, again and again, multiple times in the past. Hamas does not need any pretext to violate truces and attack Israel: Hamas is officially committed to the destruction of the State of Israel.

For Hamas, a truce – any truce – is just a temporary pause, to prepare and launch the next round, the next war, in a better position and at a time propitious to Hamas.

Given that this is the case, what should Israel seek?

There are two possible answers to this question: One answer is to eliminate Hamas, once and for all. The situation on the ground today is that Israel cannot eliminate the last few battalions left of Hamas in Rafah without incurring into enormous pain and losses to the civilian population, no matter how the plans for evacuation of the civilian population could look fine on paper.

The other possible answer is: do not try to eliminate Hamas, but leave Hamas in a clear worse position than the one it had before it violated the previous truce that existed on October 6, 2023.

What should Israel do

The Gaza Strip is presently divided de-facto into a northern section, essentially north to Wadi Gaza, under Israeli control, and a southern section, south of Wadi Gaza, presently in dispute between Israel and Hamas. This situation essentially exists since last December. Israel should now formalize this division by unilaterally withdrawing all its ground forces from southern Gaza, and adopting a defensive position, including the creation of buffer zones along the border with the Gaza Strip south of the Wadi Gaza, ready to respond to any attack against the Israeli civilian population on Israeli soil, or to any attack to Israeli positions in the Gaza Strip north to Wadi Gaza.

The Gaza Strip north to Wadi Gaza will be administrated by Israel. The Gaza Strip south of Wadi Gaza will continue to be administrated by Hamas. This new situation is summarized in the map below:

Left: Gaza Strip under Hamas rule before October 7th; Right: Gaza Strip under Hamas rule after October 7th. Wadi Gaza will be the separation border between Northern and Southern Gaza. (Map source: courtesy by the author)

Tens of thousands of presently displaced Israelis from the southern towns next to the Gaza Strip will thus be able to return safely and rebuild their communities.

With time, some of the Palestinians civilians displaced from the northern part of the Gaza strip could return, depending on the conditions on the ground. For the foreseeable future, no Israeli civilians will be allowed to live in the Gaza Strip north of Wadi Gaza.

The Israeli hostages

Israel and the US should stop the endless public spectacle of negotiating with Hamas. Where did the principle of not negotiating the release of hostages with terrorists go? This only increases their demands, and sets incentives for future massacres and hostage takings. However, for humanitarian reasons, a discreet negotiated swap between Israeli hostages held by Hamas, and Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, can be pursued, with no additional strings attached to this humanitarian swap. This could upset some hostage families in Israel, who place the release of the hostages above any other consideration. However, for the sake of the millions of Israelis, for the sake of the Israeli people, this is the right thing to do.

The official Israeli position and the incentive for Hamas to release the Israeli hostages should be clearly stated and be straightforward: For as long as Hamas will not release the Israeli hostages held in Gaza, any armed men on the streets of the Gaza Strip will be fair target for the IDF. Gaza civilians should be cautioned to stay away from armed men, to avoid being caught in the crossfire and be killed.

Defuse immediately the humanitarian crisis in Gaza

Israel will ensure that all the needed humanitarian aid reaches the civilian population North of Wadi Gaza. All this humanitarian aid will use terrestrial routes between Israel and northern Gaza, and will be inspected by Israel.

South of Wadi Gaza: Israel should not interfere – nor even give the impression of such thing – with the flow of humanitarian goods through the Rafah crossing, between Egypt and Gaza, nor should Israel inspect them: Israel should take at face value declarations issued by recognized international aid organizations and Egypt about the contents of the humanitarian aid they provide. Israel will provide temporary access to additional humanitarian aid through the Kerem Shalom crossing, between Israel and southern Gaza, to facilitate a quick end of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

All the above can be applied immediately without any need to wait for a fictitious “truce” accord with Hamas.

It will put an end to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and will allow for the safe return to their homes of tens of thousands of Israelis displaced from their communities in southern Israel since last October.

And it will allow to move to the next stages, as detailed in my previous articles: begin dealing with the refugee problem, the political future of the West Bank and the establishment of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel – while Hamas is, at least for several years, diminished in stature and impotent, save a few isolated rockets it could launch here and there towards the civilian population in Israel, that will be handled by the Iron Dome defense system and, if needed, by accurate air strikes against the sources of fire in southern Gaza.

What else could Hamas do? If Hamas will try to attack the Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip north of Wadi Gaza, it will have to move its forces out of Rafah, where they presently are, and towards Wadi Gaza, separating itself from the civilian population concentrated in Rafah. It will then be decimated by the IDF.

I am not forgetting Hezbollah, the Houthis and Iran. But this, hopefully, could be handled diplomatically by the US, France, and others.

About the Author
Jaime Kardontchik has a PhD in Physics from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology. He lives in the Silicon Valley, California.
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