WASHINGTON – Why was there an Israel-Gaza war in the first place? Resistance to
the occupation, say Hamas and many in the international media.
occupation? Seven years ago, in front of the world, Israel pulled out of Gaza.
It dismantled every settlement, withdrew every soldier, evacuated every Jew,
leaving nothing and no one behind. Except for the greenhouses in which the
settlers had grown fruit and flowers for export. These were left intact to help
Gaza’s economy – only to be trashed when the Palestinians took
Israel then declared its border with Gaza to be an international
frontier, meaning that it renounced any claim to the territory and considered it
an independent entity. In effect, Israel had created the first Palestinian state
ever, something never granted by fellow Muslims – neither the Ottoman Turks nor
the Egyptians who brutally occupied Gaza for two decades before being driven out
by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War.
Israel wanted nothing more than to
live in peace with this independent Palestinian entity.
After all, the
world had incessantly demanded that Israel give up land for peace.
gave the land. It got no peace.
The Gaza Palestinians did not
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They voted in Hamas, who then took over in a military putsch
and turned their newly freed Palestine into an armed camp from which to war
against Israel. It has been war ever since.
Interrupted by the occasional
truce, to be sure. But for Hamas a truce – hudna – is simply a tactic for
building strength for the next round. It is never meant to be enduring, never
meant to offer peace.
But why, given that there is no occupation of Gaza
anymore? Because Hamas considers all of Israel occupied, illegitimate, a cancer,
a crime against humanity, to quote the leaders of Iran, Hamas’ chief patron and
Hamas’ objective, openly declared, is to “liberate” – i.e.
destroy – Tel Aviv and the rest of pre-1967 Israel. Indeed, it is Hamas’ raison
Hamas first killed Jews with campaigns of suicide bombings. After
Israel built a nearly impenetrable fence, it went to rockets fired
indiscriminately at civilians in populated areas.
What did Hamas hope to
gain from this latest round of fighting, which it started with a barrage of
about 150 rockets into Israel? To formally translate Hamas’ recent strategic
gains into a new, more favorable status quo with Israel. It works like this:
Hamas’ new strength comes from two sources. First, its new rocketry, especially
the Fajr-5, smuggled in from Iran, that can now reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem,
putting 50 percent of Israel’s population under its guns.
has gained strategic strength from changes in the regional
It has acquired the patronage and protection of important
Middle Eastern states as a result of the Arab Spring and the Islamist reversal
For 60 years, non-Arab Turkey had been a reliable ally of
Israel. The vicious turnaround instituted by its Islamist prime minister, Recep
Erdogan, reached its apogee on Monday when he called Israel a terrorist
Egypt is now run by Hamas’ own mother organization, the Muslim
Brotherhood, of which Hamas is simply the Palestinian wing.
And the emir
of Qatar recently visited Gaza, leaving behind a promise of a cool $400
Hamas’ objective was to guarantee no further attacks on its
leaders or on its weaponry, launch sites and other terror and rocket
infrastructure. And the lifting of Israel’s military blockade, which would allow
a flood of new and even more deadly weapons. In other words, immunity and
inviolability during which time Hamas could build unmolested its arsenal of
missiles – until it is ready to restart the war on more favorable
Yet another hudna, this one brokered and guaranteed by Egypt and
Turkey, regional powers Israel has to be careful not to offend.
for rebuilding, until Hamas’ Gaza becomes Hezbollah South, counterpart to the
terror group to Israel’s north, with 50,000 Iranian- and Syrian-supplied rockets
that effectively deter any Israeli pre-emptive attack.
declaration of a cease-fire on November 21, Israel seems to have successfully
resisted these demands, although there may be some cosmetic changes to the
embargo. Which means that in any future fighting, Israel will retain the upper
Israel has once again succeeded in defending itself. But, yet
again, only until the next round, which, as the night follows the day, will
Hamas will see to that.Charles Krauthammer’s email address
is letters@ charleskrauthammer.com.(c) 2012,
The Washington Post Writers
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