Fifteen years after Israel withdrew completely from the Gaza Strip, and evicted the Jews who lived there, many of the former officers and other self-described security experts who supported the move at the time continue to argue that it was the correct decision, pointing to the decrease in the number of Israelis killed and wounded since then. But, argues Gershon Hacohen, this is the wrong yardstick:
[B]y making the number of casualties the main criterion by which to assess the security situation, as U.S. generals did in Vietnam to cover up their abysmal failures, the “experts” ignore the fact that a national-security equation does not by any means depend primarily on the number of wounded and killed. If that were indeed the key criterion, most struggles for national liberation would not have happened.
To begin with, Israel’s withdrawal reinforced Hamas’s belief that Palestinian victory will be won through “resistance” and not by political means, à la the approach of Mahmoud Abbas. . . . According to Hamas, it was not the yearning for peace that impelled the Israelis to withdraw from Gaza but operative and mental distress in the face of relentless “resistance,” similar to the panicky flight from Lebanon in May 2000. Hence the two-state solution has succumbed to a radical logic that paints it, according to Hamas’s former leader Khaled Mashal, in the colors of an ongoing phased strategy in the ceaseless struggle for Israel’s destruction.
For rockets, missiles, and mortars, as well as explosive and incendiary balloons, the fence [separating Israel from Gaza] is not an obstacle. Nor does it inhibit the tunnel threat. The fence does contribute to the regular security routine, but in symmetrical fashion it helps the enemy build up its power undisturbed. Under the protection of the fence, . . . Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been able to form an organized military force, comprising battalions and brigades, replete with a concealed and protected arsenal of rocket fire and supported by an effective command-and-control system.
Yet, writes Hacohen, these same experts wish to apply the same logic to the West Bank, risking far more disastrous consequences.