The absence of decisive and unequivocal policy vis-à-vis Hamas is a disastrous failure. Hamas’ regime in the Gaza Strip is not only a local threat: If it isn’t curbed and defeated, it will spread to Judea and Samaria, and at the end of the day will bring about the establishment of a de facto Palestinian state ruled by Israel’s most radical enemies.
The day Hamas takes over Judea and Samaria, the Palestinian Authority in its current format will come to an end and its leaders, who are Israel’s dialogue partners, will disappear politically and possibly also physically. The series of agreements, understandings, and international decisions that have been forged here in the past 15 years will be annulled. The dream of Israeli-Palestinian peace will dissipate completely.
Israel must realize that the struggle against Hamas is an almost existential matter, and the group’s military weakness is not an advantage for us, but rather, a severe problem. History shows that Israel coped well with head-on, open military threats coming from other countries, yet failed in its fight against terror groups integrated within the civilian population.
This is the secret of Hamas’ strength, and this is where the danger lies: A Hamas-controlled Palestine will not be eliminating Israel, but rather, it will slowly squeeze the life out of us.
In Israel we repeatedly hear the slogan that “talking peace” is only done with “enemies.” Indeed, it is important to talk to an enemy when we can reasonably assume that a shared platform can be found. Yet an enemy whose essence of existence is the negation of Israel’s existence as a Jewish state is not a dialogue partner.
Peace with Israel contradicts Hamas’ very existence, and radical organizations to not tend to voluntarily eliminate themselves. Therefore, any temporary agreement is no more than a junction used for rest and recovery en route to the final objective: The attempt to annihilate Israel as a state.
In May of 1940, when the British war cabinet was considering talks with Hitler (who didn’t quite want to annihilate Britain,) it was Churchill who ruled that there is no talking with some enemies. Rather, they should be fought until victory is achieved. By doing so he changed the course of British and global history.
Releasing Shalit a supreme goal
Yet around here, regrettably, we often see “pragmatic” politicians who suggest that we should “be practical” and talk to Hamas. Meanwhile, Hamas learns that patience, determination, and poise pay off.
Hamas has completely failed in Gaza: Most of its military operations do not succeed, its members are killed by the hundreds, the international siege (which includes the Arab world) is tightening, and the economy is collapsing – yet the greater its failure, the more politically powerful Hamas becomes. And the reason for that is Israel’s hesitation.
Any Israeli contact with Hamas – either direct or indirect – is forbidden. The siege on Gaza must be strictly maintained, in line with humanitarian limits. Our military operations must continue, repeatedly and frequently, while defining all of Hamas’ leadership as an immediate target for elimination and the destruction of its entire infrastructure in Gaza. Israel must completely end the talks aimed at reaching an “agreement.”
Gilad Shalit’s captivity will make it harder for Israel to defeat Hamas, which ties the abducted soldier to all the issues on the agenda: A ceasefire, opening the crossings, lifting the siege, etc. Israel has an immediate interest in securing Shalit’s release – first and foremost due to the utmost moral obligation to do so, and no less so, in order to deprive Hamas of a precious asset.
Bargaining on Gilad Shalit’s fate will serve Hamas for securing far-reaching objectives. The release of Palestinian prisoners, including those who should be jailed for life for their horrifying murderousness, could ultimately be revealed as the lesser evil that Hamas can perpetrate against us by holding on to Gilad.