No time for talk therapy

The rocket weather has improved, along with the meteorological kind. There has been much speculation about the cause of the recent escalation — you can even blame it on Obama’s reelection — but one answer is simple: Israel’s drones are limited when the visibility is poor, so the rocket scientists of Hamas can set up their launchers (in populated areas), set the timers and run.

Last night was quiet, but it will start again, perhaps with the onset of winter weather. A long term solution is needed.

Why are they doing this now, asked one commenter on a previous blog post? What’s their goal?

The answer to this is also simple: because they can, because their goal is to kill Jews and especially to terrorize them so they will leave the land that Hamas believes is an Islamic waqf. There is also a secondary purpose, which is to raise their own credit in the Arab world by humiliating the Jews, punishing them while denying their agency to do anything about it.

This implies that there is no diplomatic solution. As one blogger used to put on his masthead to the consternation of ‘reasonable’ people, “there is only a military solution.”

We are not going to get Hamas to stop wanting the Jews out of the land by talk therapy. There is nothing we can promise them, no economic incentives or development initiatives, because the only thing they want is for the Jews — they refer to all of them as ‘settlers’ — to leave or be dead.

This is not a mystery. They say it all the time. It is in their charter. There is no ‘moderate’ wing, there are only differing strategies.

I talked to a retired IDF officer the other day about his strategy to solve the problem. His idea is to build a temporary ‘safe zone’ for a million or so civilians just inside the border between Israel and Gaza, turn off the water and electricity, and go in to the cities with the full force of Israel’s firepower, destroy the strongholds under hospitals and schools, kill the leaders and fighters and destroy their weapons. He proposes simultaneously building a canal where the Philadelphi corridor is — the border between Gaza and Egypt — in such a way that it would be difficult or impossible to dig a tunnel that wouldn’t immediately be flooded.

Who would rule them afterwards, I asked. It doesn’t matter, he said. They wouldn’t have any weapons or any way to get them. We would continue allowing supplies to go through the crossings, but there would be strict controls on what got through.

I was skeptical of Israel’s ability to build and maintain a refugee camp this massive, to feed and provide medical care for more than a million people, to secure it, etc. even for the few weeks that it would take to excise the cancer of Hamas. I imagined the Security Council resolutions, perhaps sanctions, that would follow. I imagined the accusations of genocide in the media, the ‘need’ to ‘protect’ the ‘innocent Palestinians’.

But what’s the alternative? Doing what we have been doing is not working. The Egyptian border is porous and getting more so. Targeted killings of Hamas leaders will perhaps produce a temporary solution, but as long as they can import grad rockets, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, explosives, etc., they will continue to use them.

There is no solution except an incursion, sooner or later. In today’s climate, where Jewish civilians are required to hold still while their enemies kill them bit by bit, while the IDF is held to impossible standards for near-zero collateral damage, where any action unleashes a flood of false accusations that are taken seriously everywhere, the difficulty of starting and finishing an effective operation is enormous.

In my opinion, there are two dimensions of the operation that have to be minimized. One, obviously, is collateral damage. But as we saw in Cast Lead, even if the IDF’s performance in this regard is the best in military history — as British Col. Richard Kemp said — it will still be impossible to sustain an offensive of more than a few weeks in the face of international pressure. So the other dimension that has to be minimized is time.

I’m not a general or a Minister of Defense. I am prepared to leave the detailed planning to them. But there’s no question in my mind that this is a job for the fighters, not the talkers.

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One Response to “No time for talk therapy”

  1. juvanya says:

    Interesting proposal. I think the civilian camp is a temporary situation, while the IDF goes door to door.