I doubt the world needs another Jewish commentator on Israel. That’s hardly what I wished to be when I started researching polling data. But when so many deny a simple fact, I am moved to restate what I thought was obvious. Peace will come when terrorism stops.
A ceasefire appears to be in effect between Israel and the internationally recognized terrorist entities that run Gaza. The break from violence is hopeful news, but at great cost. A million Israelis spent days in fear or simply fled their homes rather than facing a constant missile barrage. The homes of 1.8 million Gazans shook incessantly while terrorist infrastructure was dismantled from the air with shockingly few casualties. Over 300 airstrikes on terrorist targets resulted in maybe a tenth that number of deaths.
At least four Israeli civilians lay dead. Many more were wounded. Dozens of Gazans are dead. Most of them were terrorists, but some weren’t. Some died because they were used by Hamas and Islamic Jihad as human shields protecting weapons and terrorists. Other people were simply in the wrong place. A pregnant mother, her unborn child, and her 1 year old are among the dead. They were killed when a Hamas missile targeting Israeli civilians malfunctioned and killed Palestinian innocents instead.
What was this horror all for? This did not need to happen.
Sadly, it has happened. Again. The worst part is that we know it will continue to happen. It will continue as long as Gaza is run by terrorists clinging to power with brute force, tyranny, and propaganda successes of “resistance”. Beating protesters like Amir Abu Oun in Jabaliya for wanting a better life is not resistance. Torturing Gazan journalists is not resistance. Pushing teens to cross a border armed with knives and shooting rockets at cities is not resistance. These are acts of cowards clinging to power.
Israel left Gaza in 2005 when I was entering High School. An independent Gaza was a greater opportunity for Palestinian self governance than even the Oslo Accords had provided. Disengagement was a much lauded move around the world, maybe in part because of how divisive it was to evict Jews from their homes. In 2006, the terror group Hamas won an election in the Gaza Strip. It quickly capitalized on its success with a violent takeover that included dropping Fatah opponents off buildings and dragging them through the street behind motorcycles. In the end, Hamas established absolute rule in the territory with limited freedom for terrorist partners like Islamic Jihad. Gaza has since become a base for terrorism against Israel and aid for ISIS in the Egyptian Sinai.
What about the Israelis who left? The thousands of Jews that left Gaza no longer wish to return, but have instead built new communities to call home. They have made homes in Jerusalem, apartments in Tel Aviv, and entire towns like Halutza which neighbors Gaza. These “settlers” continue to try to grow the country that they love. Most importantly, these people that Hamas continues to call “settlers”
want peace with a prosperous neighbor in Gaza. I know this because I have met them.
My friends who left Gaza, like nearly all Israelis, do not want war. Israelis gain nothing from fighting with Gazans. The democracy of Israel does not need war for governmental legitimacy like the terrorist autocrats that border it. Even under Hamas’s tyrannical and terroristic rule, Israel continues to send tonnes of aid daily to the Gaza Strip while providing much of the territory’s electricity. These are not the acts of an enemy but of a potential friend. Israel wants nothing less than the success of a neighbor in Gaza.
Yet as long as Israel is faced with genocidal foes trying to wipe it off the map, it will defend itself. Israel can never respond to violent demands for its destruction with anything less than strength. Thus, Israel will continue to respond to Hamas terrorism by destroying the tools of terrorism.
The past few days, Israel has used its air power to try to convince Gaza’s evil leadership that its terrorism is not worth a twisted propaganda win. Among other targets, Israel has destroyed missile launchers, a terrorist “Intelligence Ministry”, and even assassinated Hamed Ahmed Khudari.
The late Hamed Khudari funded Gaza’s terrorists with Iranian cash and his death is a reminder of Israel’s prior policy of targeting of terrorist leaders directly. Assassinating men like Osama Bin Ladin doesn’t merely break links in a terrorist network. Reminding Hamas decision makers that they are legitimate targets increases the apparent costs for those who want to hold on to power. This is sadly one of the many strategic elements that Israel needs to employ to deter attacks on civilians.
Israel wants and deserves peace. As long as Gaza is governed by terror, Israel will need to secure precious stretches of peace through the use of strength. Israel will continue to maintain its deterrence and should never be asked to apologize for that. The apologies must come from the tyrants destroying Gaza.