Switch on the lights
Israel-Hamas deal, rather than Gaza blackouts, will end rocket attacks
Ariella Ringel Hoffman
I wanted to write that at first glance, Vice Premier Haim Ramon's proposal to cut off Gaza's electricity supply in response to rocket attacks on Sderot seems reasonable, but truthfully even at first glance it is foolish. And on second glance – even more foolish; stupid even.
The images of frightened children in Sderot are indeed heartbreaking, and what is happening there is unbearable. However, pulling the plug does not work anymore, not even at the Israel Electric Company.
This move's biggest disadvantage is the continued disregard it shows to past experience, and its reliance on the Israeli notion that the next invention will solve the problem. Namely, if targeting senior operatives is futile – we'll try clearing trees and bushes that may be used by terrorists as cover. If that fails – we'll try tank fire. If that doesn't help, we'll switch off the lights, turn off the water supply, and stop the fuel tankers.
In other words, let's think what we haven't yet done to the million-and-a-half residents there - who are starved, exhausted, battered and bruised - and we'll do it.
And there's another patent, the doomsday patent: Entering Gaza with all our might. As we have a tendency for recycling we'll call it Operation Defensive Shield 2 - an amazing proposal after the great success of the Second Lebanon War. What should be kept in mind in this context is that contrary to what we're told, we did not leave Gaza two years ago.
Two years ago we left Gush Katif. The army left Gaza in 1994, 13 years ago following the Oslo agreement. Forcefully entering Gaza, albeit with all our might, is tantamount to raiding the Dahiya neighborhood in Beirut.
It is foreign territory, not familiar enough, crowded, armed, and rigged with landmines. For years it has been preparing itself for such a confrontation and is ready to commit suicide on IDF tanks, including the Merkava 4; it will be another Bint Jbeil, and much worse.
The army and the chief of staff are justifiably in no hurry to be lured into this magical solution. Even if the extent of rocket fire is reduced, it will only be temporary. It will nurture further terror, more violent and bitter than the former. And we haven't mentioned the international outcry yet, which will break out 10 minutes after the horrific images of civilian casualties are made public. Yet such a war cannot be waged without harming civilians.
So what remains? We can continue playing with Mahmoud Abbas, the new Barbie doll Olmert is playing with this summer. The man not only lacks any real influence, he will never attain a real agreement without guaranteeing the right of return, which is the real bone of contention, and no talk of "peace of the brave" will cover it up. I understand you, he said, but the Palestinian dream cannot be taken away.
And we may recall that in the 10 years prior to the withdrawal from Lebanon 10,000 Katyusha rockets landed in the Galilee, 4,000 of which landed on Kiryat Shmona, twice as many as those fired during the six years following the withdrawal, including the war we ourselves initiated.
We should remember that we never managed to prevent this rocket fire, neither in the north nor in the south, by military means. We should remember that if there is a solution it always hinges on an agreement. This time it hinges on an Israel-Hamas agreement with the elected Palestinian government.
This will apparently not happen at Olmert's residence, there will be no hugs and kisses, but it can be done clandestinely, via intermediaries - including figures who Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin knows personally.
We should grab the Hamas proposal for a 10-year ceasefire and pay for it. For example, in relinquishing the insistence to confine Gaza, and in overseeing every matchbox that enters the Strip. We should open the Dahaniya airport and lift the naval blockade – yes, even at the risk of allowing arms in.
What's the big deal? Will they bring in F-15A fighter jets? Will they purchase new submarines? We should turn every stone and seek the lost coin where it fell. We should declare, covertly and explicitly, that we are willing to talk to anyone about any subject. Orange export? Ahlan wa-Sahlan! Let's start with that. It will be more expensive tomorrow. In short, we should switch on the lights.