Monday, August 20, 2018

Time to Change the Rules in Gaza - Dan Calic

by Dan Calic

The repeated "ceasefires" have solved nothing. It's like treading water: at some point, you must sink or swim. Something has to change.

The night of August 14, 2005 remains firmly in the memory of many Israelis. For thousands it was their last night at home in the Gaza Strip. The following day was the deadline for all Jews to evacuate. August 15 saw those who remained being forcibly evicted by Israeli soldiers.
Gut wrenching images of screaming Jews being carried away from their homes were all over the media. Soldiers were being cursed. It was an unimaginable scene of Jew against Jew. Israel was almost brought to its knees, coming close to civil war.  By September 12 none of the 8,000 Jews who lived in Gaza remained.
After 38 years Israel unilaterally turned this small enclave over to the Arabs. Residents were promised financial compensation, homes and employment by the Israeli government. Ten years on the government had failed to honor its promise to many hundreds of the forced evacuees.
Why would Israel take such an unprecedented step, which severely divided the nation?
For one reason: because Israel sincerely desires peace. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, once a lion who himself championed the development of Israeli communities in Gaza and Judea/Samaria, made an unprecedented and bold move in an effort to bring stability and coexistence with Israel’s Arab neighbors.
However, instead producing a path to peace, the situation only got worse. Subsequent to Israel’s withdrawal Hamas and Fatah engaged in a power struggle. In June 2006 Hamas abducted IDF soldier Gilad Schalit and held him prisoner for five years.
In June 2007 after months of violent clashes Hamas forcibly ousted Fatah, took over the Gaza Strip and has maintained an iron-clad grip ever since.
Repeated Conflict
Eleven years, six military operations and 20,000+ rockets later, peace appears further away than ever.  Approximately 33% of children in Sderot suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Recent attacks included a barrage of 200 rockets and mortars in one 24 hour period. Thus far, the number of attacks in 2018 is on track to surpass any year in recent history.
In spite of such incessant attacks, the UN, EU and most world leaders remain silent in the face of such abhorrent behavior by Hamas. Yet, when Israel has endured enough terror and takes responsive measures, most of the media quickly vilifies Israel as the “aggressor,” using “disproportionate force.”  A recent example is the BBC. After relentless rocket attacks from Hamas Israel responded. The BBC headline read “Israeli air strikes kill woman and toddler.” Nothing was included about Hamas’s attacks.
BBC changed the headline after Israel’s justifiable complaint.
In hindsight, what has Israel gained since its bold gesture toward peace by withdrawing from Gaza in 2005?
  • Has Hamas given any indication it accepts Israel’s right to exist and a willingness to coexist in peace?
  •  Is there any international pressure to force Hamas to turn away from terror and refrain from their murderous tactics?
  • Has the UN convened an investigation into Hamas’s ongoing reign of terror against Israel’s civilians?
  • Have they condemned the terror tunnels, which are designed specifically to infiltrate into Israel for the single purpose of murdering civilians?
  •  Have they criticized Hamas for constructing the tunnels from material meant for humanitarian purposes?
The horrific anti-Israel bias of the UN was driven home by UN Ambassador Niki Haley, speaking at a Christians United for Israel event on July 23rd, when she revealed the following stunning comment:
“…in the history of the UN General Assembly there has been over 600 resolutions on the Israel-Palestinian issue. Not one of these has ever mentioned Hamas, not a single one.”
Is peace any closer?
Since Hamas took over Gaza there has been an oft repeated cycle of terror attacks to which Israel responds. This continues to a point when Israel decides they’ve had enough and launches a limited military operation designed to bring calm. When Hamas’s leadership (safely protected several stories below ground) as its civilians die, decides it’s time to halt the battle, they announce they are ready for a cease fire. Israel always accepts the cease fire and calm prevails... temporarily. This scenario has repeated itself again and again.
Lives are lost, property in Gaza lie in ruin, yet Hamas raises the flag of victory because they still exist and have withstood the mighty Israeli army. They long to live for another day of martyrdom.
With all due respect to Prime Minister Netanyahu this sick cycle needs to stop. The folly of it is only exceeded by its tragic legacy.
Time to Change the Rules
Time has come for Israel to change the rules. The repeated “cease fires” have solved nothing. It’s like treading water. At some point you must sink or swim. Something has to change.
Hamas’s charter requires the destruction of Israel. They’ve made it abundantly clear they have no intention of stopping their terror tactics. Plus, they have repeatedly stated they will never accept Israel’s right to exist. This eliminates any negotiable solution that allows peaceful coexistence. No civilized nation should have to endure such uncompromising conditions.
Israel would welcome pressure on Hamas from the international community to change their tactics and embrace peace. However, there is none. Add Iran’s persistent supply line of smuggled weapons, I believe it’s up to Israel to take proactive measures.
Israel should stop allowing Hamas to dictate the course of events.
What’s the solution? The reality is there is no simple solution. However, at a minimum Israeli civilians deserve to live in peace, free of the constant reign of terror from Hamas. Given the repeated cycle of terror/cease fire/terror/cease fire, Israel should take a new direction.
Israel should let Hamas and the world know that it will not be the one to break the cease fire. However, they should also unequivocally state that if Hamas breaks it, Israel will not respond in kind as they have been doing for years. This solves nothing. The time has come for Israel to put Hamas on notice they are prepared to mount an operation into Gaza designed to root out the terror once and for all. This will be painful and may very well cost lives on both sides.
Many will cry foul. However, Israel cannot and should not have to endure ongoing terror. With no prospect of Hamas’s willingness to compromise or accept Israel’s right to exist, a long term military operation appears to be the best option. No one wants this. However, what choice does Israel have?
Hamas’s charter calls for the destruction of Israel and annihilation of the Jewish people. Their goal is clear for the entire world to see. Their apocalyptic theological views eliminate any practical negotiated solution which allows Israel to exist. No civilized nation should be forced to make compromises with such an uncompromising enemy.
If Israel informs Hamas how they will respond if they break the cease fire, maybe, just maybe the civilian population of Gaza might rise up. Maybe they will send a message to Hamas they are sick and tired of living with destruction and violence. If there are peaceful Muslims let them speak up and send a message to the terrorists they’ve had enough.
Change the rules, by giving Hamas a clear warning, they need to stop terrorizing Israel or there will be a heavy price to pay. Put the ball squarely in Hamas’s court. Should Gazan’s rise up, the question becomes will Hamas listen? Given the history, what does Israel have to lose?
For this and more of Dan Calic's articles please visit his Facebook Page.

Dan Calic


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