It is uncomfortable to say and it is not what most people
want to hear. But here it is: There is no simple, easy solution for dealing
with Gaza. There is no simple short term solution and right now, in April of
2019, there is no long term solution at all.
Carpet bomb Gaza – or the variation on that theme – turn Gaza into a parking lot. These are the two most often repeated, highly unrealistic, mantras of the pro-Israel masses. I think people give voice to these phrases as a coping mechanism rather than as a real suggestion. Anyone who knows anything about Israel knows that neither of these are viable suggestions. They know, certainly by this point, that Israel will not indiscriminately bomb Gaza. What Israel will do – what Israel has been doing – is attacking military sites and targeting military leaders, only those locations and only those people.
And the result of that humanitarian decision, a decision that does not involve the irresponsible massive killing of innocents, maintains the status quo. Sometimes the status quo is maintained for a shorter period of time, other times for a longer period, but always and inevitably a new crisis erupts and the routine is played out once again.
Re-invading Gaza? Re-occupying Gaza? Not going to happen. Not even in the realm of possibilities. No way.
We all know the pattern. Either Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad launches rockets into Israel that breaks the threshold of Israel’s tolerance. Israel counters with a series of attacks targeting arms depots and command and control centers. If the situation becomes more intense, Israel attempts to target Hamas leadership. Targeting, of course, is a military euphemism for assassinating.
IDF leadership has further plans. Those plans include targeting and kidnapping Hamas’ senior leadership. They also include targeting, kidnapping and arresting mid-level Hamas leadership. The senior leadership of Hamas is in hiding. So it is easier to attack mid-level leaders who are not scared enough to go into hiding, but who are informed and involved enough to provide Israel with vital intel and send shock waves through the ranks. The plans also include heavier bombing as another way of sending a strong message to Hamas.
When Israel strikes Hamas targets, the targets are usually obvious and almost always deserted. All Hamas personnel have long-since evacuated and burrowed themselves deep into underground bunkers. In hopes of not injuring innocents, Israel often alerts Gazans to where the IDF is going to strike, affording them the time to find safer places to be.
This being a political season, politicians are decrying Israel’s actions calling them minimal and self-defeating. But the reality is that if those same people were prime minister right now, they would be doing exactly as Prime Minister Netanyahu is doing, exactly what they – as politicians and prime minister wannabes – are so vociferously criticizing.
Reserved restraint and surgical force is what is needed. Israel is not taking the easy way out, they are taking the smart way in. Israel is knocking out Hamas’ ability to send messages and to launch rockets. Israeli strikes aimed at weapons factories, depots, launch areas, vehicles and motor pools cripples Hamas and throws them off course. It might not be a banner headline response, but Israel is seriously putting a dent and causing chaos in the infrastructure of Hamas.
For those who hope to be prime minister, the timing of this latest conflict with Hamas couldn’t be better. And they’re seizing the moment and taking advantage of the situation. It even makes for good campaigning. In an election video, Naftali Bennett from the New Right Party talks to Ismail Haniyeh – the head of Hamas in Gaza – calls the leaders name and, in Arabic, says: “Listen, Haniyeh, I’m not Liberman; I’m new, New Right.” The same video would have worked for any of the potential candidates but that’s the only place it works – on video, not in real life, real time, or in the military or defense arena.
Israel’s response to the rockets from Gaza has been very disciplined. Iran and Hamas did not expect a disciplined response. They miscalculated. Iran and Hamas were hoping that rockets shot into central Israel would have stimulated an aggressive Israeli response. They were hoping, actually hoping, that Israel’s response would cause the deaths of many innocent Palestinians.
In the warped world in which they exist, the deaths of innocent Palestinians would have been a huge success for Hamas and Iran. It would have woken up the world, via Western media, to what was happening. But rather than seeing rockets launched from Gaza flying into Israel, the media would have told the story of Israel killing innocents. Israel did not let that happen.
Instead, Israel acted maturely and with restraint. Kudos to Israel.