The current Israeli government, just like its predecessor, shirks its obligation and moral role: Protecting the lives and property of its citizens, as well as safeguarding human dignity and freedom. These are being trampled by the enemy. This should be enough to oust such government from office.
It is unclear how the friendly term “Gaza-region communities,” which refers to the town of Sderot and many small communities in its vicinity, was created. There is no sense of community or warmth linking Israel’s southern residents and their Gaza counterparts. A visit to the area reveals to the visitor the true and painful state of affairs.
The daily reality is such that area residents sustain a daily dosage of Qassam rockets and mortar shells. When Sderot’s children keep on sustaining attacks, and when the detached figures in Jerusalem withdraw to their offices, the enemy understands that it is on the right path and that its methods work. Despite occasional IDF operations, the enemy is able to extend the Qassam range, and soon enough we shall see the Gaza-region grow larger and include the southern town of Ashkelon as well.
The IDF’s occasional operations are insufficient. They do not resolve the problem and do not even constitute a fulfillment of the government’s minimal moral obligation. Under such circumstances there are grave concerns that an especially lethal Qassam attack that would sow death (among children?) will drag the government from one end of the spectrum to another. From a state of near-indifference to the fate of Gaza-region residents to an impulsive response in the form of war in Gaza, which has become a second Lebanon.
Wolf in sheep’s skin
It is very possible that there is no escaping a Gaza war. At the same time, such war must not be embarked on without two pre-conditions. Firstly, an advance risk assessment that was already supposed to be undertaken, which would comprise all the implications of an extensive military campaign on Israel’s citizens, on the enemy, on other fronts, and on Israel’s deterrent power. It is unclear that such thorough risk assessment was undertaken before the impulsive decision to embark on war in Lebanon in the summer of 2006.
Secondly, we must formulate a clear definition of the war’s objectives. The goal should be to shatter the Hamas government’s military power and lift the threat on Israeli citizens in the Gaza region. Lifting the threat means, at the very least, a takeover that is not limited in time of the “northern section” of the Strip that in the past was home to the three northern Gaza communities (Elei Sinai, Dugit, and Nisanit,) whose ruins serve as a launching site for attacks on Sderot and Ashkelon.
On the other hand, we must not have a situation whereby the goal of a possible Gaza war would be to risk IDF soldiers not for the purpose of protecting Sderot and vicinity residents, but rather, in order to topple the Hamas government and hand over power in Gaza to Mahmoud Abbas.
There are those who call for refraining from a significant, thorough operation in the Strip and even back talks with the Hamas government to that end, which come with the corresponding diplomatic cost. The truth is that when choosing between the pair of twins, Hamas on the one hand and Fatah on the other, the former is preferable. After all, we are dealing with a declared and open enemy, Hamas, where the rules are clear and the diplomatic cost is low. In the case of Fatah, we are dealing with a wolf in sheep’s skin, an enemy whose objectives are similar to those of Hamas, yet the pleasantries it spreads turn into a honey trap for Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni, who are willing to pay diplomatic prices that are lethal for Israel. From this standpoint, Hamas is less dangerous.
In any case, IDF troops must not serve as the “silver platter” for the establishment of a Palestinian state. If this is the desired war result, then we are dealing with an immoral war that must not be embarked on.
Ron Brieman is the former Chairman of Professors for a Strong Israel