18 C
תל אביב
25 בינואר 2021
ליכודניק
The Likudnik in English

As long as Hamas exists, Israel will have no peace

As yet another round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority began in Washington a last week, Hamas terrorists butchered four Jews driving home on the highway. First the terrorists successfully hit the car from afar, then got closer to finish the job. A Magen  David Adom medic told the Jerusalem Post  that “[w]hen we arrived on the scene, all four doors of the car were open and four bodies were strewn on the road.”

The dead included a pregnant woman as well as the parents of six young children, the oldest of whom was only 24. Within two days, Hamas terrorists executed another shooting attack, injuring two more Jews.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama took these attacks as attempts by Hamas to derail negotiations, declaring that Hamas must not succeed. But whatever Hamas’s goals, one has to wonder what the point of the negotiations is if nobody at the talks can stop Hamas. Israel, of course, will be forced to acquiesce to numerous concessions, but the Palestinian Authority will be unable to deliver the one thing Israel wants in return – peace – because they have no control over Hamas or Gaza and it’s estimated1.5 million Palestinians.

Years ago, some might have considered Hamas ultimately irrelevant to the peace process, Israel’s security as well as its strategic interests. This surely contributed to the folly of the Disengagement from Gaza, where Hamas was most popular. While some warned that Gaza would become ‘Hamastan’ (among them current Prime Minister Netanyahu), others reasoned – how dangerous could withdrawing from an eight-mile strip be?

Yet since the Disengagement-propelled ascendancy of the organization, Hamas has proved that it can strike anywhere in Israel. Aside from the recent murders and shootings, it has perpetrated a number of attacks, from the kidnapping of Gilad Schalit to the three-year rain of missiles which followed the Disengagement.

Aside from the attacks, Hamas has effectively shackled Israel to the international arena. Each of Israel’s attempts at self-defense, whether Operations Cast Lead or the Blockade, has carried severe diplomatic costs. These include the global rise in anti-Semitism  resulting from Operation Cast Lead, the Goldstone Report’s accusation that Israel violated human rights, the blame placed on Israel for the deaths of Islamist lynchers of the Mavi Marmara and the transformation of the blockaded Gazan into an international cause célèbre.

As suggested above, the recent attack demonstrates how Hamas’s rise spells doom for the peace process: Excluded from negotiations, any agreement reached will not apply to Gaza and anywhere else Hamas can strike. Israel and Fatah may negotiate, but Hamas will continue to terrorize. If on the other hand, Hamas is included  in discussions, as Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Turkish President Abdullah Gul have both suggested, then an agreement satisfying Israel’s security needs will be impossible.

But even if one admits that Hamas poses no direct existential threat to Israel, indirect threats remain insidiously dangerous. As the late influential military historian and strategist B.H. Lydell Hart demonstrated in his book Strategy  (a.k.a., “The Indirect Approach”), it is the indirect approach which proves ultimately decisive precisely because it is indirect. Here, the indirect threat posed by the Islamic fundamentalist Hamas is complemented by the threat of fundamentalist Iran as well as Hezbollah in Lebanon. If Israel is forced to strike Iran, Gaza will likely be a base for Iranian retaliation and a potential front in a two or three front terror war. Worse, the entire situation drains Israel of diplomatic strength, leaving it too weak to rally the world to stop Iran’s nuclear program.

Diplomatic Gestures Ineffective

Public relations work and diplomacy have proven unable to counter Hamas. Video footage of the so-called “activists” crashing their weapons on Israeli soldiers aboard the Mavi Marmara did not stem international criticism of Israel. That Hamas showered Israel’s South with thousands of rockets after an Israeli concession like the Disengagement did not stop condemnation of Israel for stopping those rockets with Operation Cast Lead. Nor does the world allot any blame to the Palestinians for electing an openly Islamic-totalitarian and militant leadership. Gilad Shalit, whom that leadership kidnapped, might as well not exist to the international community.

Over the years, and even today, our leaders on the left have promised that if we restrained ourselves, made gestures of good will and displayed our readiness to sacrifice for peace – as we did with the Disengagement – then we would capture the prized “moral high ground” and with it, diplomatic strength. But the opposite has happened. The world blames and demonizes us even more – no matter how many Jews are brutally murdered. The international community is simply unimpressed with Jewish suffering, as real as it is, until the worst has already occurred.

Netanyahu put  this dilemma plainly before the United Nations last September, asking:

Will you stand with Israel or will you stand with the terrorists? We must know the answer to that question now… [b]ecause if Israel is again asked to take more risks for peace, we must know today that you will stand with us tomorrow.

With the lack of onus placed on the Palestinians and Hamas itself for Hamas’s actions, the world has answered Netanyahu with a staunch “No!” Israel’s diplomatic and public relations efforts have been unable to change that.

The Remaining Option: Destroying Hamas

The only option left for Israel to secure its South and the rest of the country from Hamas attacks, rid itself of a potent indirect threat and free itself from the Hamas-imposed diplomatic shackles is to completely and utterly destroy Hamas.

Admittedly, Israel has already employed military means against Hamas and failed. But these were all limited and isolated measures aimed at merely curbing the threat. They incurred high costs but failed to eliminate the problem, allowing it to fester and return to wreak more havoc.

Operation Cast Lead, for instance, significantly weakened Hamas’s capabilities and forced it into a truce with Israel, (mostly) stopping the rocket fire. But the diplomatic costs were crippling, both during the operation and after. As bearable as these costs may have been on their own, Hamas remains in power with the goal of terrorizing and destroying Israel, poised to strike at a time of its choosing – as it recently did with the shooting attacks.

A naval blockade too can be an effective strategic tool. It was one of the primary British tools which cost Germany the First World War. That blockade turned the German people against their government and barred its military from resupplying. Israel has similar goals with its blockade of Gaza. While the blockade may be hampering Hamas’s resupply, it has proven insufficient to break Hamas’s will and bankrupt Hamas of popularity. The time necessary for the blockade to build the necessary pressure on Hamas has been working with equal ferocity against Israel. In the face of that pressure, Israel has already lightened the blockade, removing any teeth it might have had.

Other punitive methods have also been employed, such as limiting electricity and other limited military operations. Like the others, these may have caused Hamas and Gazans suffer, but only enough to incur more hatred of Israel, not enough to bankrupt Hamas of popularity. Recent reporting – including videos and pictures of shopping malls, fancy restaurants, swimming pools and beaches – has shown  that the state of Gaza is not as bleak as the media has reported.

The government’s unwillingness to invest sufficient energy and attention to eliminate Hamas once and for all has turned each of its limited investments into exercises in throwing good money after bad, while Hamas remains free to carry out its mission of spilling Jewish blood. Only by using all necessary means at once can we effectively destroy Hamas and end the threat. New and creative stratagems are also necessary. But whatever the means, our military – one of the best and most trained with dealing guerilla and terrorist warfare – can draw up the necessary battle plans to destroy Hamas. This might incur a heavy diplomatic cost, especially in light of the past failures. But this one-time diplomatic fee will replace a lifetime of payments, secure Israel’s South, revitalize the chances for peaceful coexistence with the Palestinian-Arabs, and end a continuing distraction from the more direct threat of Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Perhaps most importantly, had this goal been carried out to the end during Operation Cast Lead, Avishai Shindler’s wife would still have a husband, Yitzchak and Talya Imas’s six children would still have parents, and Momy Even-Chaim, a ZAKA volunteer, would not have had to find the body of his pregnant wife, Kochava Even-Chaim, among the dead Tuesday evening

 

 

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