Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What can Israel do?

How can it negotiate a peace deal when the rockets daily raining down embody the spirit of the Hamas Charter's annihilationism

Benjamin Pogrund

Does anyone have an answer for the Israeli government's dilemma about the rockets from the Gaza Strip? Up to 40 a day fall on the southern part of the country. About 2,000 during last year.The Qassams are home-made and primitive, but are deadly. Mercifully, the death toll is still low. But there have been deaths and injuries and the town of Sderot is dying: its residents live in daily fear and many have fled. Kibbutzim in the area are also targets. Not only for rockets: last week a man working a potato field was shot and killed from across the border.

Israel rates among the most technology-savvy countries in the world. But it is unable to block the Qassams or to prevent the gradual growth in their power and range. They are creeping north and are already landing on the outskirts of the port town of Ashkelon.

Yielding to international and domestic protests, the government temporarily eased its blockade of the Gaza Strip. Although some of the protests are wild, with claims of "genocide", Gaza is clearly being driven into deep crisis with its 1.5 million people suffering from the restrictions on imports of fuel, food and medicines, and export of fruit.

Some rightwingers in Israel demand wholesale attack to wipe out swathes of houses with little regard for the numbers of people who will be killed. The Israeli Defence Force does not want to do that: it fears loss of its soldiers and is worried about the international consequences of many Gazan deaths.

The military response thus far is to assassinate leaders of the movements which fire rockets - Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees - and to hit and kill those who are about to fire or have just fired rockets. The attacks reflect astonishing levels of intelligence-gathering. In the confines of Gaza, civilian deaths are inevitable, whatever the efforts to avoid them.

It is all horrible. Yet no government in the world can sit by idly while rockets rain on its people. It is impossible. Public anger is intense. The first duty of government is to protect its citizens - and if it fails to do so, it faces the rightful wrath of its electorate.

Palestinian suicide-bombings drove many or most Israelis to the right. The rockets are having the same damaging effects on Israeli public opinion in hardening opposition to ending the occupation of the West Bank and accepting a Palestinian state. Such a state would have Ben Gurion International Airport within easy rocket range, it is argued; and with Israel a mere 12 miles at its narrowest, from the Mediterranean Sea to the West Bank, the coastal cities would also be imperilled.

These dangers certainly exist, if the neighbour is an enemy. The obvious answer is peace. But how to achieve it?

Israeli leaders and the Palestinian Authority are attempting it. But Hamas and its partners are rejectionists. Hamas staged a coup against the Palestinian Authority last June and seized control of the Gaza Strip. Those firing the rockets not only don't want peace, but they are also committed to eliminating Israel. Go read the Hamas Charter of 1988 with its naked hatred of Jews.

Under the pressures of the blockade and assassinations there are whispers that Hamas now wants a ceasefire, whether for a shorter or longer period. How much substance there is to this cannot be said. Is it merely a ploy to gain a breathing spell to bring in yet more explosives through the underground tunnels, which start on the Egyptian side of the border? Or can it be the first tentative step towards accepting the fact of Israel's existence, opening the way to the mutual recognition and working together which must come?

Meanwhile, the bottom line remains for Israel: how do you make peace with someone who not only refuses to talk to you, but actually wants to kill you?

Without any answer to that question, and without any means of halting the rockets, will someone please tell the Israeli government what to do today about the Qassams?

33 Comments:

At 8:14 PM, Blogger Cookie..... said...

Well...there is an answer...but no one would be able to live in that area for the 50 to 100 years...

Now...before everyone starts jumping down my throat...I'm just being facitious, but it is certain...that some sort of military action is required on the part of the Isreali government. This just cannot go on unchecked...

 
At 9:44 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Peace will have to come from both sides, Cookie, from both sides... Otherwise this can go on for another 100 years.

 
At 10:23 PM, Blogger Cookie..... said...

I realize that Gert..."from BOTH sides"...BUT...from what I'm reading at several differant sources, the extremist Palastinian segments don't want peace...again begging the question (or answer), what kind of military force can be used without pissing off the entire world.

You can't just let somebody continue to punch you in the nose and do nothing...

 
At 10:33 PM, Blogger Renegade Eye said...

You made a good analysis. Your question can't be answered in the context of the present system.

The Zionist leaders, Islamists, or nationalists allied with Bush, will not solve the problem. The Israeli and Palestinian leadership needs to be overthrown.

 
At 4:42 AM, Blogger BEAJ said...

Can you blame Israel for defending itself? No.
Can you blame the Palestinians for bombing Israel? Yes.

 
At 5:02 AM, Blogger Eitan said...

Ren: this is whack: you're putting "Zionists" and Islamofascists in one category. Not a very good analysis on your part.

BEAJ: that's why I got you on my "Zionists" list (unlike of some other bloggers;)You might be a bacon-eating aetheist Jew but that doens't prevent you for having love for your people.

 
At 9:49 AM, Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

The question is not really what Israel can do. Technically Israel can do horrifying things to Gaza, even without using WMD.

So it is rather what Israel could do without plunging into the darkness of genocide, mass murder or population transfer.

I am afraid that a ground forces operation will become inevitable at some stage, much as we all would like to avoid it. Even this option will cause thousands of innocent victims. But some say that a decisive an ruthless military victory saves more lives in fact than the slow unending mutual bleeding.

I wish I could make peace with my own mind on this one...

 
At 9:51 AM, Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

But then, Eitan, Renegade Eye is using 'Zionists' exactly as he and his ilk would use 'Nazis', 'fascists' etc. I am afraid you are preaching to the deaf in this case.

 
At 2:17 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Cookie:

"from what I'm reading at several differant sources, the extremist Palastinian segments don't want peace"

Then you should also read those sources that show clearly how intransigent West Bank settlers also form an obstacle to peace, for nearly 60 years now.

BEAJ:

"Can you blame Israel for defending itself? No."

No, but I can blame it for sustaining an unsustainable 60 year-long occupation, one which some elements in Israel have done their hardest and darnest to "normalise". As you do. Despite presenting yourself as a bit of a moderate, when it comes to Israel you're just another blowhard chickenhawk.

STG:

"But then, Eitan, Renegade Eye is using 'Zionists' exactly as he and his ilk would use 'Nazis', 'fascists' etc."

That "Zionism" is often used as swearword in some circles is true, but your side is all too keen to single out the suspects. In the case of Ren, that might be contentious...

 
At 2:51 PM, Blogger Cookie..... said...

Gert, Gen. William Tecumsa Sherman once stated..."War is Cruelty, there is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the quicker it will be over."

When you think about...it's becomes apparent as to how true it is, and I strongly feel that is a lesson the enemies of the US and Israel have already learned. We haven't woke up yet to this fact and we keep attempting to sanitize war.

Some Greek philosopher once stated that "The first casualty of war is Truth", and that is certainly something we are all witnessing on all fronts and from both left and right wings, and both factions do nothing but continue on ad nauseum to point fingers at each other instead of addressing the situation(s) realistically and doing what must be done, no matter how distasteful. Justifying bad behavior by pointing to other bad behavior serves no purpose.

I'm old fashioned. Punch me in the nose and I'm going to hit with a freaking baseball bat, and if you try to get up I'm going to keep it up until you can't get up. Leave me be, and I'll probably wind up being your friend.

Sherman again..."War is Hell."

It's an unfortunate fact that some people ONLY understand one thing, violence and pain, so, as a Nation, Israel must do what it must...

 
At 4:01 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Cookie:

You're refusing to address my point though: that the occupation of the West Bank is considered illegal, also by every successive US administration. That that occupation is an enormous obstacle to peace... recognised also by Mr Bush.

Give'm hell? Sure... and they'll give you hell back.

Folksie arguments and dreams of nuking people aren't going to get us out of this pickle...

 
At 4:42 PM, Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

"but your side is all too keen".

Oy vey, Gert - when will you grok that the mere manner of assigning sides and labels to live people is exactly what brings your friend Renegade (to take an extreme example) to use terms like "Zionists" in a way he uses it.

"My side", as you call this undefined entity, includes only one person - that's me. Try to cope with this, and don't listen to Renegade, as I have already warned you before...

 
At 5:31 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Snoopy:

"your side" was a clumsy way putting of it, my bad.

"don't listen to Ren"

I'll listen to whoever I please, thanks!

 
At 6:32 PM, Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

Sure, Gert, you do just that, as long as you don't listen to R.

Seriously, he reminds me so strongly of a Soviet book "History of CPSU" that I almost (but not exactly) feel a bit of a nostalgia.

"Your question can't be answered in the context of the present system."

Bleh...

 
At 8:41 PM, Blogger Emmanuel said...

Gert: It's a 40-year occupation, not a 60-year one. Unless you think even Israel proper is an "unsustainable occupation", which I hope you don't.

Regarding Gaza, I don't think a military incursion is the way to go. There would be many more casualties than in the present situation and it might not even achieve the goal of stopping the Qassams.

Israel should talk to Abbas and the West Bank government and move the peace process along. Positive developments in the West Bank will also have positive effects on Gaza in the long term. I can't think of any effective short-term solutions.

 
At 8:58 PM, Blogger Cookie..... said...

OK...this rant should piss a few folks off and get some others panties in a bunch...

First off...look back about 75 to 100 years back. Things were really quite simple. If one country did something to another...there were consequences..usually war of some sort. Both sides suffered, one more than the other, and the war was over. End of story! Actions have consequences, period.

Then along came a corrupt United Nations with very little efficacy, and nowadays, folks keep trying other methods to avoid conflict... like embargo's, negotiations, diplomatic talks...yada yada yada....and gee...haven't we done just absolutely wunderbar after all our efforts. Just look at all the conflicts and wars going on around the globe, and more probably in the wind.

Human nature is what it is. I didn't make the rules. Whenever one group of humans attempts to impose their will or beliefs on another set of humans, especially through violence, there must be dire consequences for that perpetrator because the only thing that really matters in the end is who is willing to stand up and fight for their freedom, safety and independence the most, and to what degree.

Just look at ALL the success all these talks and negotiations have had over...lets see...how many years. Unless the victim makes a stand and harshly swats the aggressor, it will simply go on for much longer.

Yes...talk, be diplomatic and warn ONCE. Thats it! After that one had better be prepared to accept the consequences of their actions... like the old days. Maybe its me...but I think there was less conflicts back in history...or at least for shorter periods of time...

OK Gert and others...this aught to keep your comment section buzzing fer a spell mate...but that's just the way I feel and see things, and NO, I'm not a Neanderthal. Unfortunately, human nature is what it is...

 
At 3:40 AM, Blogger Eitan said...

"that the occupation of the West Bank is considered illegal, also by every successive US administration. That that occupation is an enormous obstacle to peace... recognised also by Mr Bush.

Give'm hell? Sure... and they'll give you hell back.

Folksie arguments and dreams of nuking people aren't going to get us out of this pickle...


Gert: No one is going to tell people who were born in Yehuda and Shomron, who tranformed the swamps and rocky surfaces into farming land, whose sons and daughter died defending that land that what they're doing is "morally wrong" that we are hurting other peoples' "human rights" or that it's "illegal." Not Rabin, not Sharon and certainly not one of the worst American Presidents in the history of this nation. And why is it illegal in your mind? Because the U.N. says so? You realize the Palestinians(who didn't exist back then) gave up their rights to any of Greater Israel declaring war in 1947, don't ya?

As far as the Palestinians "giving (us) hell back", you haven't been there, haven't seen these cowards, haven't looked them in the eye, haven't been tiny outposts defended by 2-3 brave young boys. You do know a lot about Israel's military history. You still think they have what it takes to fight us back?

Nuking Yehuda, Shomron and Aza isn't going to do it because that would be going too far. Besides these places are to close to our own villages;)

 
At 3:28 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Emm:

My bad of course: that should definitely have read "40 years of occupation" (1967 - present date), not 60 years. Apologies. I recognise (without doubt or hesitation) the legitimacy of the creation of the Sate of Israel.

Cookie:

Personally I think you should drag the ACLU into this too. Kill two birds with one stone, you know? (wink!)

The UN has its drawbacks but in the case of Israel/Palestine it's safe to say its influence has been fairly marginal and the combatants have been allowed to fight it out for themselves. Result? The mess we're in today...

"Both sides suffered, one more than the other, and the war was over. End of story! Actions have consequences, period."

... is essentially retrospective wishful thinking, not born out of reality. Europe was a battleground for centuries on end. One of the longest lasting conflicts was actually called "The Hundred Year War". Short, snappy and satisfactory, dear Sir, it wasn't...

Eitan:

"No one is going to tell people who were born in Yehuda and Shomron, who tranformed the swamps and rocky surfaces into farming land, whose sons and daughter died defending that land that what they're doing is "morally wrong" that we are hurting other peoples' "human rights" or that it's "illegal." Not Rabin, not Sharon and certainly not one of the worst American Presidents in the history of this nation. And why is it illegal in your mind? Because the U.N. says so?"

I don't want to refer specifically to Yehuda or Shomron because I don't know these places. But one thing's for sure: most of the land now called Judea and Samaria was captured in 1967 and International law stipulates that holding on to land captured by means of war for the purpose of settling, is illegal. Whether some people are born there or not does not change that.

You also should remember there appears to be a small majority of Israelis in favour of withdrawing from most of these lands, so it's not just what I think or what the UN thinks.

"You still think they have what it takes to fight us back?"

You want to have your cake and eat it too (again). Not so long ago you defended shooting Palestinian kids armed with stones on the basis that "these stones can be lethal". Now you're asking me whether I think "they have what it takes to fight us back".

The answer is that no amount of Qassams or even suicide bombings can destroy Israel or even make a dent in its armour. But the terrorists continue to cause pain and suffering. That's what you could call "hell". On a lower level, throwing stones, might also qualify as such...

 
At 4:14 PM, Blogger Cookie..... said...

Gert mate, ya know, as I was typing my statement regarding relativeley short wars, the first thought I had was that you would bring up about the only exception I could think of to counter that idea, and that was "The 100 Years War"...I think I'm getting to know you pretty good...

So I'll qualify my statement to "for the most part"...

P.S.... I didn't bring the ACLU into this post only because the author didn't mention them...had he...I'd still be typing yesterday's comment.. ;-)

 
At 6:25 PM, Blogger Eitan said...

Gert: if the gov't wanted to badly enough, the IDF could wipe out all the terrorist infrastructure in Yehuda, Shomron and Aza within one(1) day. It took us all of 6 days to wipe out 3 Arab armies; it shouldn't take more than one to kill off several thousand thugs aka terrorists. So yes, I can have my cake and eat it too. As regards international law, it's always sided with the stronger party. If Israel were to regain the momentum it accumulated in '67 and transfer the Palestinians East of the Jordan river, we'd have all the rights all of a sudden and no one would be shoving their ideas down our throats.

...Of maybe things would be different. But that's just my guess based on what little I know about history.

 
At 7:05 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Cookie:

Allow me to throw a fox in the chicken pen:

Long live the ACLU!

Does this mean you'll honour this blog with you presence some more?

 
At 7:06 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Eitan:

Gimme a break from the strongman talk: 20 years of occupation of Lebabon couldn't even get rid of the PLO... Guerilla warfare is notoriously difficult to combat with conventional armies: see Vietnam, N. Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan (when the USSR tried to occupy it) for a few examples...

 
At 7:40 PM, Blogger Cookie..... said...

Doubt it mate...just typing those unwritable, unspeakable letter causes both me...and my computer to start shakin with anger...

 
At 10:10 PM, Blogger Eitan said...

Gert: Sharon made it all the way to Beirut in less than two weeks. He uprooted the PLO from most of Lebanon and the only reason we didn't completely annihilate the PLO in Lebanon was because of American/Soviet pressure. Give me a better example, buddy!

 
At 10:39 PM, Blogger Emmanuel said...

I just added a blogroll to my site - and you're on it! You are part of a select few (one of five, so far).

 
At 3:25 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Emm:

Well, I read your blog regularly, so you've been added to mine. Thanks!

 
At 11:33 PM, Blogger Bar Kochba said...

Well I'm a lunatic so I don't think that my opinion will count here. We must learn from the dictum contained in Midrash Tanchuma: "When you go to war against your enemies... just as they should show you no mercy, so you should not show them mercy". I say to hell with those sonei yisrael!

 
At 11:36 PM, Blogger Bar Kochba said...

"But one thing's for sure: most of the land now called Judea and Samaria was captured in 1967 and International law stipulates that holding on to land captured by means of war for the purpose of settling, is illegal."

Umm... no. International law forbids forcibly transfering citizens there to populate it, in the sense of Germany forcibly populating its annexed territories or China in Tibet. Every Jew that lives in Judea and Samaria went there voluntarily due to a deep love for the Land of Israel.

 
At 12:12 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Bar:

Nobody's saying you're a lunatic.

 
At 1:35 AM, Blogger Bar Kochba said...

Sorry, I've just seen you debate at MadZe's and you've been pretty condescending at times. I figured that I was just preempting a dismissal.

 
At 5:21 AM, Blogger Mad Zionist said...

End the problem? Create a fully funded Palestinian state...east of the Jordan river. You notice how the Palestinians ran like hell through the breached Gaza border with Egypt? That was to get a few groceries and tent up in a desert that doesn't want them. If Israel would provide a similar opportunity for them to run to Jordan, only with more money and a full state of their own called Palestine, well, it wouldn't take much nudging.

Separation is the key to peace, but it must be separation of the arab menace from Israel, not within Israel. This is the only answer to peace. Remove one from the other; nothing else will ever work.

 
At 2:04 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Bar:

Almost no one over at Madze is particularly respectful of me neither. It's a two way street...

Madze:

Ain't going to happen though...

 
At 10:36 PM, Blogger Eitan said...

Gert: I'm looking forward to a new post and would like for you to do me a favor: check out my latest;)

Have you!? Can we let out a WOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW?

 

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