Should we retake Gaza?
Eitan Haber offers all the reasons why we should, and shouldn’t, reoccupy the Strip
The average Israeli goes to sleep these days as his lips whisper a prayer, and with great hope in his heart: To wake up in the morning and hear that the IDF has reoccupied the Gaza Strip, and “Sderot experienced its first quiet night.”
Oh, dreams are beautiful, because reality is harsh and painful: Gaza will remain stuck like a bone in Israel’s throat for a long time to come apparently. Even a military magician like Ehud Barak has not yet been able to find the formula to make Gaza disappear like a rabbit in a hat.
Almost two million people are looking up to the Gaza skies every morning: Some wish to bless every Qassam rocket fired at Israel, while others are searching for our Air Force choppers, a signal that something bad is about to happen to someone in the Strip.
Now that President Bush’s plane has departed from Ben Gurion International Airport, many Israelis began the countdown: Very soon we shall see salvation for the tens of thousands who are suffering, really suffering, from Gaza’s existence in its current format: Hamas and Qassams.
For convenience sake only, we collected the various reasons, motives, and excuses for a “Gaza operation – yes or no.” Here they are, right before you, below:
Because a sovereign state cannot allow seven consecutive years of Qassam fire on its communities and residents
Because Ariel Sharon – who saw the Qassams start to explode in Sderot and around Gaza during his tenure by the way – promised our people that if the disengagement will be implemented, no more Qassams will land here. Well, what happened?
Because 14 people died so far in the years that saw thousands of rockets fired at Israel.
Because the anti-Qassam system will be ready only in about three years and even then there is no certainty that it would be able to destroy these primitive warheads.
Because if we wait longer, the launchers would be able to boost their range and reach Kiryat Gat and Ashdod
Because the passage of time enables Hamas to organize like an army, and its military resistance would be more intense later and cause more casualties on our side.
Because Hizbullah is quiet, for now.
Because ever since Ehud Barak became defense minister, 300 terrorists were killed in counter-terror operations. During the same timeframe, four soldiers died, including one in an accident. Meanwhile, one woman was wounded.
Because there is nobody in Israel who knows what will happen the day after a wide-scale operation in Gaza: Will we occupy the entire Strip? Will we go back to controlling the almost two million Arabs living there? Will we stay there for a year? Two years?
Because Qassams were fired at Israel even when the IDF controlled Gaza. Who can guarantee that they will not continue to explode in Israeli territory once the IDF reassumes its control?
Because reoccupying the Strip will impose a great burden on the entire defense establishment, on the IDF, and particularly on the reserve forces.
Because occupying Gaza will boost Hamas in Judea and Samaria as well, possibly allowing the group to take control of it. Many people will be joining existing Hamas supporters in that case, arguing that Hamas is fighting and doing things while the Palestinian Authority merely talks.
Because occupying Gaza will bring about the complete and final collapse of dialogue and the peace process and turn back the wheel 15 years, when Israel was ostracized by the international community
And the last point, but in fact the first one, and the most important one: Because the occupation of Gaza would lead to dozens of killed IDF soldiers, and possibly many more. When we return from Gaza, and bury the dozens or maybe hundreds of our dead, the plot will revert to its starting point: Qassams on Sderot, and dozens or hundreds of “our best sons” who are no longer with us.
A recent example of this: Hizbullah regained the strength it had before the Second Lebanon War, and some say it even grew a little stronger. Yet in 161 homes in Israel there is someone missing – someone who will never return, and no commission of inquiry will bring them back.