IDF dont fuck with me!.
(photo credit: AP)
The pressure from the political Right, as well as from parts of the security establishment, to carry out an incursion into the Gaza Strip "before it is too late" is mounting. Chests swell, and there is excited talk of "an incursion into Gaza."
The argument is that there is no way the Haniyeh government will ever recognize Israel, put an end to the terror and honor the agreements that have been attained so far between us and the Palestinian Authority. Every Kassam rocket landing on us proves that disengagement failed. The fact that Hamas took responsibility for the sniper shooting of an Electric Corporation employee this week demonstrates that it does not even bother to pretend that it is interested in reaching a settlement with Israel.
Hamas is exploiting the current cease-fire to arm itself and to train its forces in Iran. The suicide bombers are prepared with their explosive belts and are just waiting for the signal to renew the terror attacks inside Israel.
In the absence of any possibility of a settlement and without any hope for peace, it is only inevitable that a third intifada will break out, and it will come when the Palestinians are better armed, better trained and better organized. In order to prevent what happened with Hizbullah happening with Hamas too, we have to deal with the problem while it is still manageable.
THESE ARGUMENTS should not be taken lightly, because there is truth in them. Except that an incursion into Gaza is a vestige of our smug complacency that has survived despite what happened to the IDF in Lebanon. Should we invade Gaza and accept responsibility for a million unemployed and hungry Palestinians?
Should we invade Gaza and conduct a house-to-house search after pipe bombs and Kassams? Should we uproot every floor tile in every house in our search for weapons? Dig under every hut on the Philadelphi Corridor to uncover tunnels? After all, we were already there; we already invaded and controlled and searched and arrested and killed - and we also searched obsessively for the body parts of our soldiers. What good did it do?
True, it is they, not us, that always start anew. True, it is they, not us, that are responsible for the current situation. True, they are completely disregarding the decisions of the Quartet. True, the Palestinians in general and Hamas in particular have no interest in a settlement that will uphold the right of the State of Israel to exist.
So what should we do?
Should we once again bring in 50 tanks and a brigade or two of reserve soldiers in the hope that they will enforce peace and quiet? Should we once again be depicted as bullies by the world? Should we unravel the delicate fibers being spun with the moderate Arab states? Should we give Iran an excuse to defend Islam from the Zionist bully? Should we once again make ourselves the target of the scorn and contempt of the United Nations? And should we once again have to worry about the fate of our soldiers in the Gaza Strip?
So what should those that believe that there is a chance for a settlement with the Palestinians do?
The government is doing the right thing for now, by refusing to recognize the Haniyeh government, while making an effort to prevent erosion of the international front against recognition of Hamas.
In time, we may discover that the current Fatah-Hamas coalition will opt for a more moderate approach, which will wear down the Hamas hard line, as happened in Fatah.
Because then there may be someone to talk to and what to talk about.
If not tomorrow, then perhaps in a year or two.
At the same time, we must repeatedly warn the Palestinians - and public world opinion - that if the Hamas government launches a new intifada, we will respond with unprecedented force. Not by means of an incursion, which would merely get us into trouble, but rather by bombing and shelling and cutting off electricity and a total siege - until they take the hint.
There is no way of knowing if this will help. What is certain is that an incursion into Gaza will not.