Israel’s leadership insists that this week’s massive Hamas rocket barrage on the Negev region is an attempt to draw Israel into the Gaza Strip in order to unify warring Palestinian factions. Israel, the politicians vow, will not take the bait.
While that may indeed be Hamas’ short term goal, Israel’s government is yet again demonstrating a detrimental inability to see beyond the immediate horizon.
The long-term diplomatic consequences of not responding to the ongoing rocket fire from Gaza in an overwhelming and even shocking manner far outweigh the short-term international criticism Israel would face for invading the blood-drenched coastal strip.
Allow me to briefly explain.
Even from a secular liberal viewpoint, which is how Israel’s current leadership approaches the situation, not launching a crushing military response will result in a setback for Israel in the “peace” negotiations it so desperately wants to conduct with the so-called “moderate” Palestinians.
Every time the Palestinians escalate their aggression and Israel fails to respond with even more severe military action, then ending that new level of Palestinian aggression becomes the benchmark for Palestinian compliance.
In the beginning, what was requested of the PLO was to keep arms out of the hands of groups like Hamas, to prevent unauthorized weapons from ever entering “Palestinian” territories.
Since every Palestinian and his mother are now armed, clearly no one is making that demand anymore. It has already been violated in an irreversible way.
Then we moved on to stopping certain groups from carrying out bus bombings. The Palestinians never complied, but thank God Israel itself has managed to curb that threat.
Now we are seeing a far more strategic threat – cross-”border” rocket fire. And Israel is allowing that rocket fire to become a bargaining chip.
When Israeli leaders next meet their Palestinian counterparts for “peace” talks, what they will demand is an end to the rocket attacks. The Palestinians are effectively controlling what it is the Israelis will ask for at the negotiating table, and they are making sure it won’t be anything too substantial for them in the long-term; they are making sure they won’t ever have to really compromise.
Israel could very simply end this situation by responding to escalating Palestinian aggression in kind. As soon as the Palestinians increase their rocket fire, Israel should invade Gaza and carry out unceasing and crushing military operations everywhere. Israel should make life 10 times more unbearable for the Palestinians than they are making it for the residents of southern Israel.
And Israel should not stop doing that until the Palestinians cease their fire. The negotiating point for the next round of talks should be Israel ending its frightening display of military power in exchange for an end to Palestinian rocket fire – period. Nothing more.
Israel should not have to trade more security and land concessions for a temporary reprieve from ever-escalating Palestinian aggression.
Of course, going this route would mean flipping the bird to an incensed international community, which means that despite the obvious, Israel’s current leaders won’t even consider it.
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