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Break the loop

It was a weekend like many in the past year: Rioters in the Gaza Strip tried to break through the border and violently attack Israeli civilians alongside rockets fired by Hamas into Israeli towns.

The so-called “Great March of Return” – in which thousands of Gazans gather by the border every Friday, launch flaming projectiles into Israeli towns and agricultural land, and attack IDF soldiers – has been going on for nearly a year, since last March 30.

Meanwhile, there have been repeated flare-ups of violence from Hamas, the Islamic terrorist organization that controls Gaza, including the record-breaking day in November when they launched nearly 500 rockets into Israel.

Israel has responded with occasional air strikes and has continued to allow suitcases full of cash to be transferred into Hamas territory. It’s reached the point where Hamas has threatened greater violence if they’re not paid.

“That’s a nice country you’ve got there. It would be a shame if something happened to it,” Hamas seems to be saying, before offering, mafia-style, not to escalate violence if they get the cash – or protection money – they want.

And now Qatar – that great, supposedly-impartial negotiator, whose contributions include daily international anti-Semitic broadcasts in multiple languages on Al-Jazeera, the network funded by the royal family from Doha – is swooping in to save the day and negotiate some kind of agreement to keep calm, which will surely be more favorable to Hamas’s interests than Israel’s. It’s not difficult to predict that millions of dollars in protection payments are surely in Hamas’s near future.

This cycle has repeated itself so many times, it’s like we are stuck in a loop that no one knows how to break.

In theory, with 29 days to an election, we should be hearing creative ideas of how to change the paradigm, bust the loop open and end these weekly attacks – for the good of the residents of the Gaza envelope and all of Israel. It would also be good for Gazans to not have weekly demonstrations with senseless violence, considering that the border protests have yet to change their dire reality.

This is a constant drain on Israeli security and resources, putting our civilians and soldiers in danger. Our leaders – and those who would like to be – should be telling us how they plan to deal with it.

The Blue and White Party– whose leader, former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, is a candidate for prime minister – does have ideas about how to proceed, which have been laid out in its platform, though in vague terms. For example: “a strong response to any provocation and use of violence against our territory,” while working with regional partners to give Gazans a better life and erode their support for Hamas.

The Likud still does not have a platform, so we don’t know what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggests, or even if he thinks there needs to be a change. When his government didn’t respond to the hundreds of rockets in November, his explanation was that there are greater security challenges, which ended up being the operation to destroy Hezbollah tunnels in the South.

What is his explanation for the past few months? How does he plan to go forward? These are important issues for Israelis to have answers to before they head to the polls on April 9. In fact, smaller parties on the Right, like Yisrael Beytenu and the New Right, have repeatedly attacked him on this point in their election campaigns.

With neither Netanyahu nor Gantz submitting themselves to interviews by journalists, it’s hard to get a clear view on where they stand, even if Blue and White has made more headway towards addressing the point.

Whoever ends up being prime minister after the upcoming election will have a lot on his plate and many issues to address, from US President Donald Trump’s peace plan to the growing deficit. But putting an end to our weekly national déjà vu should be at the top of his list.



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