Gaza escalation was about bodies not bombs

Analysis: The IDF has claimed that the flare-up was because an Islamic Jihad militant was killed but the sight of his corpse being dragged away by a bulldozer incensed the street in Gaza; and if Israel does not realize this, it will all happen again

Alex Fishman|
It wasn't because of Iran or Syria or the burgeoning Gaza deal or even the elections.
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  • The violence of the past two days, which could have deteriorated into an overall military confrontation, was purely a matter of violation of Palestinian national dignity.
    3 View gallery
    לאחר תקרית הירי בגבול עזה: קרב על לקיחת הגופה של הפלסטיני
    לאחר תקרית הירי בגבול עזה: קרב על לקיחת הגופה של הפלסטיני
    IDF troops drag a militant's body away from the Gaza fence using a bulldozer
    The defense official who gave the order to go into the Gaza Strip in broad daylight and drag out the body of a terrorist hanging from the prong of a bulldozer could have blown up the entire Middle East through ignorance and insensitivity.
    When Defense Minister Naftali Bennett ordered the collection of terrorists' bodies for use in future negotiations with Hamas, he certainly did not intend to endanger the soldiers dispatched to carry out this mission.
    He probably also didn't mean for the body to be defiled for all to see and stir up fury in the Strip. But that's what happened.
    Just minutes after the video of the militant's body being hauled away was released, the social networks in Gaza exploded with rage.
    It was clear to the Shin Bet security service that the story would not go away quietly. The army tried to explain – deludedly - that the two days of rocket fire erupted because it killed terrorists who tried to lay a bomb at the fence.
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    הפצצות של צה"ל בדרום רצועת עזה
    הפצצות של צה"ל בדרום רצועת עזה
    The IDF strikes Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza
    (Photo: AFP)
    But these were not the first terrorists killed on the fence: Just a month ago, three Palestinians died in a similar incident that was defined as "execution" in Gaza.
    No rockets flew and it all ended with demonstrations.
    But the most recent case was not just a security incident - it was a violation of Palestinian national dignity. Disrespecting a body induces rage in any culture.
    And that's the real story. Islamic Jihad took it upon itself to exact revenge and Hamas could not stop it because the Palestinian public was not on its side.
    Israel then attacked Gaza and Damascus, once again beginning what is seen as "controlled decline."
    Fortunately, the rocket that hit a playground in Sderot on Monday also ended in nothing. God forbid that children had been hurt, Gaza would have been incinerated and the elections might not have taken place next week.
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    נפילה של רקטה בגן שעשועים בשדרות
    נפילה של רקטה בגן שעשועים בשדרות
    A rocket crater in a playground in Sderot
    (Photo: AFP)
    The defense establishment tells tales of Iranian influence over rogue organizations that Hamas cannot control and about political timing.
    All of this is true, granted, except that it has nothing to do with the recent events. If the real lesson is not learned, Israel will find itself embroiled in a similar saga again: Israel will collect more bodies and there will be more friction on the fence - as long as there is no arrangement for calm with Hamas.
    But the arrangement as Israel understands is not the arrangement that Hamas has in mind.
    Just this week, Hamas leaders said the arrangement was an economic issue for them - and had nothing to do with the "national struggle."
    Hamas is not committed to restraining Jihad, returning captives and fallen soldiers' bodies, or stopping terror in the West Bank. It is committed to receiving economic benefits that allows it to solidify its grip on the Strip.
    Meanwhile, the money that flowed into the Hamas coffers this month, for which the head of Mossad and the GOC Southern Command worked so hard in Qatar, was used among other things to fund hundreds of weddings of couples that Hamas favors.
    Mazal tov. Congratulations. Mabruk.
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