Gaza is a mini-state controlled by Hamas, which allows and encourages ceaseless rocket attacks on Israeli communities. It enforces a radical religious regime on Gaza’s citizens through violence and oppression, aspires to take over Judea and Samaria, and to that end aspires to eliminate the Palestinian Authority.
Most countries in the world are bothered by the danger Hamas poses to Israel, the Palestinian Authority, regional stability, and the global war on Islamic terrorism. The international community therefore chose to boycott the Gaza-based Hamas, avoids any contact with it, and cooperates to some extent or another with implementing the economic siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.
Today Israel has no immediate response to Hamas terror: Surgical short-term military operations are indeed being undertaken, yet Israel avoids a broad ground incursion, which may exact a price that is greater than the benefits of such operation. Other means of deterrence are facing legal obstacles.
The economic siege is only partly maintained, millions of dollars find their way into the Strip, and some Gaza residents find their way out of the Strip, with inexplicable Egyptian assistance.
In recent days, security forces have managed to start a change in the “trench war” Israel found itself engaged in: A series of pin-pointed and efficient surgical strikes caused great losses among terrorists, while admirably avoiding civilian casualties. The sequence of operations and their level of execution made Hamas fear that perhaps they were the result of a new and better operational doctrine.
For that reason, we saw the well-known magic formula for calming Israel raising its head in Gaza: “signals” regarding a “desire” to reach a “ceasefire.” This was not done by directly approaching Israel; there is no need for that. It is enough to display a hint of such desire to a newscaster, and Israel will immediately be overcome by loud ruminations regarding the need and wisdom inherent in talks and contacts that would lead to such ceasefire agreement.
In the name of political ‘realism’
A few of those who think that way are part of a well-known group of professional “thinkers” who specialize in reflexive-automatic views that would never contradict the common perception. The views of those people are of no importance. Yet sadly, we hear the voices of other people who hold responsible government and defense establishment positions, and they openly declare that we must not ignore Hamas’ “ceasefire signals”, and all in the name of some kind of political “realism.”
This “realistic” chatter could cause Israel grave damage. From the day Hamas won the Palestinian elections, Israel placed itself as the global leader in the fight against it. Israel firmly demanded that all countries completely boycott this organization and angrily reacted to any country that thought otherwise. How does a tiny sign of seeming Hamas “moderation” end a “determined” policy that lasted years? Time and again, Israel places its friends in an intolerable situation, when they are asked to deal with Israel’s enemies more harshly than Israel itself deals with them (as was the case with Syria.)
The possible effect in the Palestinian context is even graver. The Palestinian Authority is fighting for its political and public survival vis-à-vis Hamas (while some officials face genuine life danger.) Mahmoud Abbas has stubbornly and bravely refused to maintain any dialogue with Hamas as long as Gaza is not brought back under PA control and before the Hamas accepts the recognition terms outlined by the international community. He does so despite serious pressures from within the PA, and particularly from the Arab world. Israel-Hamas talks would place him in an unbearable situation.
The Israeli prime minister must unequivocally declare that there will be no talks with Hamas, in its current format. Not over a ceasefire, and not over anything else (with the exception of the return of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit; to that end we may even talk with Satan.)