Gaza and Hamas: Now What?

Having failed to achieve its goals through unceasing rocket attacks on Israel, Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in 2007, proceeded to concentrate its efforts on creating a network of attack tunnels. In 2014’s Operation Protective Edge and subsequently, the IDF has succeeded in systematically destroying these tunnels—an achievement that most likely spurred Hamas to take up its current tactic of mass protests at the security fence combined with attempted infiltration. Now that it has defeated this effort as well, Elliott Abrams asks what Israel should do next.

Misery in Gaza is not in Israel’s interest. The problem is that Hamas has thus far shown no interest in transforming itself from Islamist terrorist group into responsible government of Gaza. This should be no surprise. Yasir Arafat could never make that transformation either, from terrorist into head of government. His rejection of Israel’s offer at Camp David was in part a rejection of changing himself from a “resistance” leader in military uniform into an administrator responsible for schools, hospitals, and roads. And Arafat was secular. . . .

Hamas [by contrast] is an Islamist terrorist group dedicated to eliminating Israel and will never agree to transform itself into a “normal” government. This leaves Israel and Egypt, and anyone else who is serious about avoiding more violence, with few good options. How can Israel and Egypt pursue a policy of improving economic conditions in Gaza—more electricity, water, sewage treatment, jobs, opportunities to leave the Gaza Strip to study or to get medical treatment—without strengthening Hamas’s ability to move terrorists in and out and acquire more weapons or their components? We are familiar with the story of cement: permitted to be imported to build houses, but instead diverted by Hamas into construction of those tunnels.

It is worth trying again to reduce misery in Gaza, even if success will be partial or minimal. Efforts at humanitarian relief at least show Gazans and moralists in Europe (so quick to jump to facile criticism of Israel, as we saw this week) that the true author of Gaza’s plight is Hamas, which sees Gazans as cannon fodder rather than citizens for whom it is responsible. There is no visible “solution” to the problem of Gaza, because it is today a small Islamist emirate governed by a terrorist organization. For Israel, violence can at best be reduced or delayed, but not avoided entirely, when the goal of the group ruling Gaza is precisely violence designed to destroy you.

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More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Yasir Arafat

 

To Israel’s Leading Strategist, Strength, Not Concessions, Has Brought a Measure of Calm

Aug. 14 2018

Following a long and distinguished career in the IDF, Yaakov Amidror served as Israel’s national-security adviser from 2011 to 2013. He speaks with Armin Rosen about the threats from Gaza, Hizballah, and Iran:

For Israel’s entire existence, would-be peacemakers have argued that the key to regional harmony is the reduction of the Jewish state’s hard power through territorial withdrawals and/or the legitimization of the country’s non-state enemies. In Amidror’s view, reality has thoroughly debunked this line of reasoning.

Amidror believes peace—or calm, at least—came as a result of Israeli muscle. Israel proved to its former enemies in the Sunni Arab world that it’s powerful enough to fill the vacuum left by America’s exit from the region and to stand up to Iran on the rest of the Middle East’s behalf. “The stronger Israel is, the more the ability of Arab countries to cooperate [with it] grows,” Amidror explained. On the whole, Amidror said he’s “very optimistic. I remember the threat that we faced when we were young. We fought the Six-Day War and I remember the Yom Kippur War, and I see what we are facing today. We have only one-and-a-half problems. One problem is Iran, and the half-problem is Hizballah.” . . .

In all likelihood the next Israeli-Iranian confrontation will be a clash with Amidror’s half-threat: the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hizballah, Iran’s most effective proxy in the Middle East and perhaps the best armed non-state military force on earth. . . . “We should neutralize the military capability of Hizballah,” [in the event of war], he said. “We should not destroy the organization as a political tool. If the Shiites want these people to represent them, it’s their problem.” . . .

“It will be a very nasty war,” Amidror said. “A very, very nasty war.” Hizballah will fire “thousands and thousands” of long-range missiles of improved precision, speed, and range at Israeli population centers, a bombardment larger than Israel’s various layers of missile defense will be able to neutralize in full. . . . This will, [however], be a blow Israel can withstand. “Israelis will be killed, no question,” Amidror said. “But it’s not going to be catastrophic.”

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More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Lebanon