Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Iron Rule to understand and manage the Gaza problem

There is an iron rule, every decision maker here should always remember and repeat:

MIlitary attack on Israel or on the IDF results from internal Arab causes. MIlitary attack on Israel or on the IDF results from internal Arab causes. In other words, gunfire or any belligerent activity on Israel or on our IDF evolves from the depth of inter-Arab disputes , sometimes hidden or

Israel has always served as a tool, a function, so that any Arab factor would reach its aims. This happened when Ahmad Jibril launched Katyushas on the North in 1981, in order to gain standing within the PLO, when Hezbollah fought the IDF for 18 years, to secure social mobility for the Shiites in Lebanon; and even when the second intifada broke out in 2000, when Marwan Barghouti and people of his generation actually wanted to control Palestinian politics ; and now, when rockets are fired from the direction Gaza strip controlled by Hamas.

Is the Hamas organization behind these launchings? This is in great doubt. Sederot and Israel are most of the time hit by organizations opposing Hamas: Fatah satellites, local gangs and hamullas end the Islamic Jihad, which is on chilly terms with Hamas. It is easy to fabricate the rockets, and easy to launch them, even if Hamas is not satisfied with this. To the best of my knowledge Hamas has avoided launching rockets since it took control of Gaza, except for some cases of mortar fire on the border
crossings. These attempts to manage the launching (Hamas has a problem stopping the rockets, for it is after all the anti-Israel Hamas) were not successful, and it testifies to the fact that despite the iron hand Hamas
imposed on the Gaza Strip, it has not fully succeeded in establishing its wish. Launching rockets on Israel has become almost the only way of protest against Hamas; of expressing an inter-Palestinian opinion ; holding an inter-Palestinian dialogue, which is, of course, always at our expense. What is achieved with these launchings? Money, blackmail, inter-organizational
vengeance, pressure within the framework of some negotiations, and more. But by means of rocket launchings you can first of all strive for the big prize.

If Israel undertakes extensive military action in the Gaza strip, liquidates Hamas or weakens it very much, causing it casualties, the aforementioned organizations will reap the fruit. If Israel takes the chestnuts out of the fire for them, they will benefit by it. It is Israel, which in most cases has acted as a blindfolded horse for this or another Arab side. Thus we remained in Lebanon for no less than 18 years; we sacrificed about 1,000 of our boys, for the Shiite wish to advance in Lebanese politics! Thus we acted exactly the way any Arab side expected us to act. A pity.

The instant we understood the functional use the Arab side makes of us, we joined the Middle Eastern club.

It is the precisely the Olmert Government that acted correctly a year ago, when it attacked Hezbollah, in contrast to the latter's evaluation that we would hold back. We greatly surprised the Shiite organization, but we did not run the war correctly and with the right amount of power. A pity. The beginning was right and good.

Hamas's takeover of all of the Palestine Authority in the elections of January 2006 (that is to say that that was the wish of most Palestinians), and Hamas's violent takeover of the Gaza strip, all these are as good as a great achievement of Israel on the historical level. Why?

1. Hamas actually annulled the "Palestinian problem". It is already deep into the pan-Islamic problem, it linked the Palestinians to terrorism and no longer to national liberation in the general awareness, thereby turning the Palestinians back fifty years. Hamas reversed the Palestinians from David back into Goliat. From the attacked to attackers. From victims to aggressors. It is not Israel's task to again bale out the
Palestinian problem, for the Palestinians.

2. Palestinians are up to their necks in an internal confrontation, and they do not have time on their hands to fight with Israel.

3. The topic of safe transfer has been dropped and is no longer relevant to the current reality.

4. A Palestinian state is more and more perceived as a regional danger in the Arab world and world-wide. There are quiet voices in Jordan or Egypt who would prefer a permanent Israeli government on the West Bank to a Palestinian state which today would be controlled by Fatah and tomorrow by Hamas or Al-Qaeda.

5. At the same time Israel is currently perceived in the world as an island of stability, necessary for the stabilization of the Middle East. Thanks to Hamas Israel is more perceived as a solution rather than a problem. Israel's geopolitical standing has improved very much. What is this similar to? Someone who understands the blessing of good health only after he has become ill. Up to the victory of Hamas Israel was taken matter
of fact. After the terrorist takeover, the world understands how good it is that there is an Israel.

6. The victory of Hamas and the Palestinian civil war is a lesson for anyone planning a new intifada against Israel. The end of all Palestinian intifadas was a night of long knives within the Palestinian camp, self-destruction, and a national disaster. This is a historical lesson which can serve as an antibody for intifadas.

And yet, Sederot and the Gaza by-pass are bleeding. What can be done?
Until the Hamas takeover of Gaza, I sided with an large Israeli military operation + a coordinated entry of an international force into Gaza, to fill the vacuum. But this situation is less to the point at present. So what is?

1. We must finally detach ourselves from Gaza. The writer of these lines implored doing this two years ago, at the time of the detachment [disengagement], then it would have been perceived as a natural separation from Gaza, and not as a punishment, and would have achieved legitimacy. And still, nobody in the world will expect Israel to supply electrical power to Gaza, so they can there prepare the rockets used against it. The world understands that today, except the government of Israel. And just like we wrote here: It appears that it is easy to extract Israel from Gaza, but not Gaza from Israel. Note how our media are addicted to Gazan affairs: There is power,
there is no power, and so it goes all day long. This is part of the Israeli interference, the masochistic occupation with Palestinian affairs, despite the fact that it is no longer connected to us! This is interference by the sheer fact that our media loves our oversights ("Where did we go wrong?") and self-criticism, and even if reference is to pointless criticism. If there won't be Palestinians the media will invent them.

2. Transfer the burden to Egypt. Egypt has a common border with the Gaza strip, just like Israel. For decades the Egyptians demanded us to leave "the occupied lands", and so we did. Now the burden should be transferred to the Arabian brothers of the Palestinians, and this should be
the position of Israel in any forum. Egypt will have no choice, it will be drawn in to the strip. It is forbidden to give in here.

3. Pointwise daily security activity, exactly the way it is done today, against any terrorist objective. The border areas in Gaza are at present interdicted to traffic, and anyone penetrating them is putting his life in danger. This why the Palestinians use children as help in the launching activity. They try to break the Israeli method by exploiting world-wide public opinion. This atrocious method, which Khomeini used at the time against Iraq, should be exposed . Military activity should be
permanent, bothersome, going on day and night , and it should leave its marks within several weeks to some months, the way it did in the West Bank. It should be recalled: A large Israeli military action in Gaza at present is,
paradoxically, some sort of reconnection, at a time we are called upon to continue separating from Gaza, and from all what it stands for.

Thus Israel will surprise its enemies, first of all by that it won't act as expected, it will not intervene in the Palestinian civil war, which is their internal affair, and will maximize its security capabilities within the characteristic Middle Eastern trap, which as always is impossible, cruel, but also challenging. By smart management , Israel is signaling that it has already learned to familiarize itself with the Middle East and its illusions.

Zvi Sar'el, Ph.D.

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