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November 23, 2018 9:15 am

Israel’s Patience in Gaza Will Pay Off

avatar by Reuven Berko / JNS.org

Opinion

IDF armored personnel carriers are seen in a field in southern Israel, near the border with the Gaza Strip, Nov. 13, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen.

JNS.orgSince last week, Hamas has been concerned with the nature of the ‎covert Israeli mission in Khan Yunis. Things may have deteriorated during that operation, ‎but it was enough to spark fear in Hamas that the daring ‎intelligence-gathering mission was a prelude to an impending, ‎deadly Israeli blow.‎

In Israel, critics also delved into the issue, especially given the ‎questions that arose over Israel’s policy in the Gaza Strip. This, in turn, ‎raised the question of who is a leader. The answer is that a true ‎leader is one who is willing to pay a price at the polls — and even risk ‎destabilizing his government — to do what it takes for the good of his ‎people and country.

Israeli politics, however, would confuse anyone. If Israel strikes ‎Gaza, the “peace-lovers” complain that the ‎government is all too eager to “sacrifice our soldiers” in another ‎‎”reckless round of futile bloodshed.” Additionally, they decry the lack of “proportionality” and the “foolish” refusal to negotiate with the ‎‎”moderates” on the Palestinian side. ‎

On the other hand, if Israel avoids mounting a strike in Gaza over security ‎considerations that the military and other security services deem ‎valid, the critics lambaste the government’s weakness and hesitation. ‎

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Hamas is something of a caged monster that cannot be appeased ‎and will not disappear. Nothing in its teachings ‎mentions humanity or moderation; its religious legacy is ‎based on destroying Israel, killing its citizens, and plundering its assets. Hamas sees Israel’s self-imposed ‎moral restraints as a straitjacket and proof of our stupidity and ‎weakness. ‎

Israel’s anxiety about its international image allows Hamas to make ‎brazen statements and extortionist demands. In its attempts to ‎defraud the world, Hamas claims to be willing to accept Israel, but its leaders would gouge out both ‎their eyes provided Israel loses one eye.‎ True, the government’s restraint during the recent flare-up on the ‎Israel-Gaza border is frustrating and infuriating, but prudence ‎really is the best course of action.

In the meantime, the West is trying to eradicate homegrown ‎Islamist cells and is chasing them down across the Middle East. ‎Internationally, Hamas will eventually be perceived as a cancerous ‎Islamic tumor that must be curtailed for the good of the entire ‎world. ‎Until that happens, dealing with a “chronic disease” like Hamas is ‎better than confronting the savage Islamic State group. This is why ‎Israel prefers a weakened Hamas to survive, and is in no rush to ‎replace it.‎

Still, as Hamas, like the mythical hydra, occasionally sprouts new ‎heads in the form of terrorist proxies, the need to cut them down ‎also occasionally arises. ‎

The idea of helping Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ‎reimpose his rule on Gaza after being driven out in 2007 is ridiculous. Like Hamas, the Palestinian Authority ‎also believes in the gradual plan of armed resistance ‎against Israel, reinstating the “right of return,” and usurping ‎Jerusalem. If anything, the schism between the Palestinian factions ‎has led to a pre-1967 situation, in which the West Bank is ‎something of Jordan’s concern and Gaza is Egypt’s concern. ‎

We must use our technological advantage and refrain from sending ‎troops into Gaza. There is also no point in wasting money and munitions ‎on “knock on the roof” warnings. If there is sufficient deterrence, ‎there is no need to reach an understanding with Hamas that will ‎allow it to build up its arsenal. ‎

The principle of proportionality corresponds with the hypocrisy of ‎political correctness. The hypocritical West knows from experience ‎that only disproportionate blows yield decisive results. We will get ‎there. All we need is patience.‎

Dr. Reuven Berko is a writer for Israel Hayom and a former adviser on Arab affairs to the Jerusalem district police.

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