Just like a mantra promising miracles and wonders, the calls for conquering the Gaza Strip emerge every time our southern border heats up and the rocket fire on area communities resumes.
The Gaza takeover is presented as a cure for the boldness of the Popular Resistance Committees and a recipe for restoring Israel’s deterrence: A ground incursion, destruction of infrastructure, elimination of immense arms depots and lifting of the missile threat on the south.
Before I proceed with my argument, a quick apology: It’s true that it’s easy to object to a ground incursion when one lives in central Israel, dozens of kilometers away from the northernmost point reached by the missiles. It’s also true that those who did not spend nights at bomb shelters and did not cope with anxiety-stricken children can justify their objection more easily. And still, the following needs to be said: Ground operations, as violent as they are, will not resolve the problem.
“We must teach them a lesson once and for all,” said a resident of one Gaza-region community in a radio interview. “It’s impossible that residents of Gaza spend time at coffee shops while we stay in bomb shelters.” However, this man should know, better than others perhaps, that Gaza residents have not been sitting at cafes for a while now, and that Israel has been teaching them a lesson, not once and for all, but often. Yet it doesn’t last forever.
Remember the price
Israel is most certainly teaching them a lesson, in places where there are no bomb shelters or an Iron Dome system or an air raid siren, yet nonetheless, the rocket fire keeps on resuming, time and again. Perhaps this is the case because they have nothing to lose, or because they are stubborn and determined in fighting their war. Maybe we need to seek other ways to fight them.
In any case, after such long years of endless clashes, we should know by now what works and what doesn’t. And at what price.
It’s true that if there is no other choice, then there’s no other choice. Yet at this time, our decision-makers are right to respond with force on the one hand, yet on the other hand mark the boundary: Going into the Gaza Strip, a place that as we may recall we already entered, and left, and entered, and left, and entered, and left.
Going into Gaza is akin to reversing. It’s a certain recipe for sinking in a swamp. And after all, we’ve already been in this swamp, on more than one occasion.