A futile endeavor
Opinion: Israel is more than justified in responding harshly to Hamas’ provocations, but it is foolish to embark on yet another military campaign with an inevitable disappointing result we are so familiar with. Israel must first neutralize Hamas’ propaganda capability by generously offering economic benefits for Gaza if Hamas disarms.
There has never been a more justified cause for an operation against a terrorist entity than Israel has at the moment, following the launching of rockets from Gaza into southern and central Israel. But the last thing Israel needs is another military campaign that turns into a ground invasion.
The first stage has already begun, but we must recall that Israel has already been in this situation. There have been many rockets and the IDF has embarked on multiple campaigns — but nothing has been accomplished. We do not need another war, the results of which are known in advance.
Israel’s handling of the Gaza crisis is an ongoing failure. Never before has Israel been so justified and so foolish at the same time. Ad decade has passed and there is still no coherent policy for Gaza. It has been a decade of routine rocket attacks and military campaign after military campaign and now events seem headed for another military campaign that will undoubtedly bring us toward another military campaign in another five years. This is not policy, it is pure folly.
It must be said: the blockade of Gaza has not produced results. Hamas has been strengthened even while the life of Gazans has taken a dramatic turn for the worse. Hamas has become even more sophisticated. Their rockets can now reach anywhere in central Israel and will probably soon be able to reach anywhere in Israel.
And what is Israel doing? It is paying pacification money to Hamas hoping for another few days of calm. And when Israel gets dragged into a round of fighting, it doesn’t strike Hamas very hard but the people of Gaza suffer the consequences; homes are destroyed and women and children injured. And it makes for great public relations for Hamas. It feeds off those images. Hamas has been beating Netanyahu in the propaganda sphere again and again.
If the current round of hostilities ends up as a ground war, the results are foreseeable. At first, Western leaders will justify Israel’s actions; declarations of support have already started. After a few days though, the television channels will be broadcasting images of the destruction in Gaza. Major cities in the West will have protests against Israeli “war crimes.”
Anti-Israel organizations will add fuel to the fire and leading newspapers will print harsh condemnations of Israel. The leaders who defended Israel initially will give in to pressure and the UN Security Council will convene and the rest of the story is known: there will be another ceasefire that will look just like all the previous ceasefires and after a week or two, the violent protests will resume, incendiary balloons will e launched into Israel from Gaza and eventually rockets will be fired. A few months will pass, an inquiry commission will publish its conclusions blaming Israel and if all this is evident — why go through it?
What is the alternative? An offer of reconciliation, the option of removing the blockade and channeling unprecedented investment to build a sea port in Gaza along with other benefits — all on condition that Hamas agree to disarm or abide by international agreements already formulated by the Quartet.
Such an offer won’t change anything as far as the BDS campaigners, and other useful idiots among human rights organizations, are concerned. But it will improve the image of Israel if, after Hamas rejects the offer, Israel embarks on a military campaign, because Hamas has insisted on numerous occasions that their struggle is against the blockade that is chocking the Gaza economy and they “have no choice.”
World opinion has defeated Israel time and time again. That weapon must be neutralized before Israel embarks on a campaign. A generous reconciliation offer will not solve the problem, but it will deal a critical blow to Hamas’ propaganda machine.