Photo: AP
Deterrance alone is not enough to keep Hamas quiet.
Photo: AP

Carrots and sticks for Gaza

Op-ed: Israel's deterrence against Hamas has remained strong, but deterrence alone is not enough: Offering Gaza's rulers some positive incentives could serve the interests of both sides.

Monday's rocket fire from Gaza and the Israeli response have lead to some people being concerned about the possibility of an escalation into another violent conflict, as happened with 2014's Operation Protective Edge. There is, of course, no need for that to happen, as long as we operate in accordance with Israel's real interests.



Israel's interests in Gaza are only security-related, and they can be divided into two parts: First, we want there to be no Gazan fire towards Israel. Second, we want the military strength of Gazan forces to be weakened.


Israel doesn't have any territorial, economic, or political interests in Gaza. And what of Hamas's interests? Well, the main two are achieving international legitimacy for its rule, and through that building the Gazan economy and infrastructure. The conflict of interests between Israel and Hamas is therefore not as absolute as one might imagine. This means that a mutually satisfactory reality could be created.


Gaza, after an IDF strike. A lack of Deterrence is not the problem. (Photo: AFP)
Gaza, after an IDF strike. A lack of Deterrence is not the problem. (Photo: AFP)


Such a reality can be brought about by using two means: On one hand, severely responding to any fire against us, thus preserving deterrence; and on the other hand, helping Hamas, or at least not hinder its efforts to, achieve some of its important goals. Israel tends to err on that second point.


For example, a few weeks ago, Israel protested to the United Nations about UN aid organizations giving funds to Hamas, as opposed to providing them directly to Gaza residents. This attitude is problematic, since Israel can't go on claiming that Hamas is responsible for any rocket fire emanating from Gaza—regardless of who the actual perpetrators are—and then turn around and pretend Hamas leaders are not the leaders—and perhaps even the legitimate leaders—of Gaza.


We should go even further: For the past ten years, Gaza has been a de facto independent state. It has clearly defined borders, a government, a foreign policy, and its own military. These are signs of statehood. True, it's an enemy state ruled by bad people, but not only is this a reality with which we must live, it is in fact the least bad reality available to us.


Facing this enemy, we can create a modus vivendi that would allow us to preserve our interests—prolonged quiet being chief among them—and give the other side good reasons to keep calm as well.


Hamas. Israel can use this enemy's interests to serve its own. (Photo: AP) (Photo: AP)
Hamas. Israel can use this enemy's interests to serve its own. (Photo: AP)


The conflict that was Protective Edge did not occur because Israeli deterrence was warn down, but because Israel only used "sticks", neglecting to offer Hamas and "carrots." More specifically, the carrot that was Hamas members' salaries was taken away. In their hour of need, Hamas took what it saw as the only available course of action: Firing rockets.


Apparently, the lessons were learned. Israel agreed that an international committee would convene one month after the ceasefire, dealing with the recovery of Gaza, but it also insisted that the committee would be led by Egypt and that the funds for Gaza's recovery be given to the Palestinian Authority. We thus agreed to let the two local actors most uninterested in Gaza's recovery handle the process.  


If Israel does not encourage international aid to Gaza, with Hamas' government being in the loop, we may experience another armed conflict. This one, like the last, will not come about due to a lack of deterrence—but due to the lack of its necessary companion: positive incentives.


פרסום ראשון: 08.23.16, 12:10
 new comment
This will delete your current comment