by Dr. Reuven Berko
The Gaza Strip disengagement and the subsequent rocket fire at Israel can be allegorized by the tale of the patient who, after a minutes-long root canal procedure, was surprised to hear the treatment was so expensive.
"You paid a lot because the procedure was quick, it could have taken two hours," the dentist explained.
Because Israelis in the country's south are already suffering from Hamas rocket attacks, it's appropriate to properly utilize their ongoing pain, the result of the "root canal" (the disengagement), and inflict great pain on the other side. As the Arab proverb goes: "A wet man doesn't fear the rain."
The solution is to cause insufferable and disproportionate damage to Hamas' assets and resources, while paying no heed to its conditions or messages. The idea is Pavlovian in nature: When things are hellish for us, we will dispatch many of yours up to "heaven."
Hamas has defined Israelis as strategic targets to be killed. Its goal is to create an Islamist state on Israel's ruins. The Jews are allowed to be discussed in a singular context — their destruction or their retreat to "the west" of here, to the sea. Any nuance or deviation from this religious belief is simply heresy.
Hamas is conveniently conducting a two-faced policy intended to deceive. On one hand, it is trying to appear like a legitimate regime with governmental responsibility for its population, while winking to the West (some parts of which refuse to denounce it as a terrorist group) and presenting itself as a humanitarian government authority in legitimate competition with the Palestinian Authority.
At the same time, Hamas is involved in running a club for terrorists, and it has many members. It can't allow itself to lag behind the other Islamist terrorist organizations — most of which are Hamas' subordinates — in their efforts against Israel.
These subordinate groups are fighting Israel as "frontline" units commanded by Hamas in order to maintain the murderous organization's image of legitimacy. This method allows it to compete for popularity among the Palestinians, collect donations, garner flotillas of support, visits and diplomatic aid (from the Qatari emir, for example), and improve its relations with Egypt.
With that, when these ephemeral terrorist groups join up to throw a large anti-Israel bash, Hamas comes out of the woodwork to take a declared part in the rocket fire. If it doesn't participate, it risks losing its appointment as "terror club manger."
It's a familiar trick: Hamas leaders remember how they used to make it possible for Yasser Arafat to play dumb with the West and Israel, by functioning as his "deputy contractors for terrorist operations." Hamas also remembers how it ultimately rebelled against the PLO and how the "tail wagged the dog." We must make use of Hamas' collective memory as a tool with which to mold consciousness. How?
The Palestinian media has on more than one occasion revealed that despite its "bloodthirsty Islamic" image, Hamas is sensitive to preserving its resources. This mainly pertains to the heads of its leaders and its infrastructure, which projects normalcy and legitimacy. In actuality, Hamas is attentive to the painful messages of losing this infrastructure, terrorist operatives and other services it offers.
Israel must not fall victim to the capriciousness of one Islamist group or another. It needs to bomb the Gaza Strip and cause unprecedented damage to operatives and infrastructure without exposing our troops on the ground. Gaza is a tale of Sisyphean conflict to be decided by building a deterrence based on causing substantial damage; it's a shame to lose even one soldier. The alternative to Hamas' leadership in Gaza is already there; therefore we must allow a small nucleus of its old guard to remain as "knowledge sources" — to pass on the collective message of deterrence seared into their consciousness.
Dr. Reuven Berko
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