I read in today’s newspaper that there is a debate in Israel’s cabinet regarding the objective of this war. One faction thinks it should be to crush Hamas’ military capabilities. The other believes that it is necessary to completely remove Hamas from power as well. But I go farther.
In at least four previous conflicts, Israel has tried to reduce Hamas’ ability to fight. Each time, despite the destruction of weapons factories and stockpiles, the filling in of tunnels, and even to some extent the targeted assassination of its leaders, Hamas – with the help of Iran and the worldwide community of antisemites – has come back stronger and more dangerous, much more quickly than expected.
Now they have succeeded in carrying out a massive slaughter of Jews unmatched since the Holocaust. They have shown that the supposedly mighty IDF can’t protect its own soldiers, not to mention civilians, from a terrorist militia that can’t even be called a proper army. They have badly damaged the honor of the State of Israel – and therefore her power of deterrence. And they have proved to Iran and its Hezbollah proxy that their goal of removing the Jewish state from the map of the Middle East is not only a dream.
The loss of honor and deterrence is the most serious threat to the continued existence of the state since the first days of the Yom Kippur war. Iran is marshaling the forces of its proxies as it develops a nuclear umbrella. Everyone wants to support the “strong horse,” and today our horse appears weak indeed.
Israel must keep from becoming involved in a multi-front war, especially inside her borders. In order to do this, she must deal with her enemies one by one, quickly, completely, and on her own terms. The US has pulled Israel back from decisive victory over her antagonists several times (Henry Kissinger even said that this was a goal of US policy), and will do so again as soon as the public horror over the viciousness of Hamas dissipates. There are numerous media doing their best even now to change the discourse from Hamas beheading babies to Israel’s “disproportionate” bombing of military targets in Gaza.
There is a quick and permanent solution to the problem of Gaza. It will not be popular in the UN and with the Biden Administration, but the it will be the job of the leadership of Israel and the IDF to bring it about despite all that.
The main objections to reconquering Gaza and reestablishing Israeli sovereignty are 1) it will require a long and painful ground campaign, which will entail a large number of casualties on both sides; and 2) occupation of Gaza will result in a continued insurrection that will tie the army down and sap our strength.
I propose a rapid campaign, using the air force, armor, and artillery, to create a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, to drive the residents south to the Egyptian border, and to persuade Egypt to open the border to refugees (Egypt is dependent upon Israel for natural gas). The UN, the EU, and the NGOs would have to provide for the refugees and resettle them. This would be a good time to disband the failed UNRWA and treat the refugees like all other refugees from armed conflict.
With most of the civilian population removed, the army could use its firepower to advance quickly. A temporary military occupation would be practical. To prevent the reappearance of a hostile entity there, it should be settled by Jews and ultimately annexed to Israel.
While there is no doubt that the present residents of Gaza would suffer greatly for a time, it needs to be understood that this is an enemy population. It voted for Hamas in Palestinian elections, and while much of it finds the regime oppressive, the overwhelming majority supports its goal of destroying Israel and killing Jews. Its welfare cannot be the responsibility of Israel.
Expelling Gazans would violate international law. But international law must take a back seat to national survival. In any event, international law is not obeyed by the great powers like Russia or the US, by the medium-sized powers like Turkey or Egypt, and certainly not by Israel’s enemies. The double standard that demands compliance by Israel is a gift to Iran, the biggest violator of all.
These actions would permanently eliminate the threat of terrorism and war emanating from Gaza, and would restore Israel’s honor and deterrence in the region. It would be a small step in the long process to secure a Jewish state, but a necessary one.
The modern state of Israel was founded in part to put an end to the continued pogroms and depredations committed against the Jewish people in the diaspora. After the Holocaust, the slogan “never again!” became popular. But it has happened again. And it will continue to happen, again and again, as long as Israel does not take its proper place as a Middle-Eastern nation with the strength and resolve to survive in the Middle East.
And may Hashem help the Jewish people if we don’t.
This blog originally appeared here.