Reconquer Gaza

Even if we grant the assumption that instead of a dominant Hamas we get anarchy, that is still preferable.

Hamas militants bury a slain comrade in Gaza (photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)
Hamas militants bury a slain comrade in Gaza
IT IS anybody’s guess whether the Gaza fighting will be really over when this piece appears. But nobody has illusions that we are, at best, dealing with anything more than transient tranquility prior to the next round.
I know that my recommendation to reconquer Gaza places me in the ranks of people who think with their gut and not with their heads. But having seen what the sophisticated conflict managers and periodic grass mowers have wrought, I don’t believe the results could be any worse.
Islamism is a form of fascism complete with its viva la muerte death cult. It particularly appeals to those disgusted with the grey faces who comprise today’s political class and are looking for a cause beyond paying their mortgages. Hamas and IS (the Islamic State, formerly ISIS) promise them an Islamic Disneyland and a swashbuckling ride along the way. As with the Lone Ranger, we can return with them to the thrilling days of yesteryear.
The Islamists boast an esprit de corps collectivism in an age of atomized individualism. They mock what they consider decadent Western bourgeoisie niceties with mass executions, stonings and crucifixions. While their appeal is understandable, they are unmitigated evil and must be physically vanquished, and Gaza is as good a place as any to start.
Even if we take the assumption that the Gazans and Hamas are not one and the same at face value, that distinction cannot be tested while Hamas holds power. The indirect Israeli Rube Goldberg strategy that employs shock and awe to get the populace to turn on Hamas is both naïve and irresponsible. It recalls clandestine broadcasts stirring up the Hungarians against the Soviet Union in 1956 or goading the Kurds and Shi’ites to rise against Saddam after Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
Israel cannot simultaneously signal that it will leave Hamas in control and then expect the Gazans to pressure a Hamas that wields coercive power and will unhesitatingly use it against its own people.
Israel has a weakness for imagining itself in the big leagues and accepting the slogans in vogue, such as “there are no military solutions” and that “Hamas like Saddam or Gaddafi are preferable leviathans to a state of anarchy.”
In Israel the talking heads encapsulate this reasoning in one word – Somalia. But Somalia occupies over 650,000 square kilometers including terrain suitable for guerrilla warfare; Gaza is 360 kilometers of flat terrain. We can control Gaza after destroying Hamas.
Even if we grant the assumption that instead of a dominant Hamas we get anarchy, that would still be preferable.
It is highly unlikely that an anarchy could have amassed an arsenal numbering thousands of missiles or financed the massive attack tunnel project.
Israel, however, should not go into Gaza simply to present it on a silver platter to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is good only for charging Israel with war crimes. The objective at a minimum is to produce a security situation similar to Judea and Samaria following Operation Defensive Shield in 2002.
But we could go further. If the Palestinians want to play at war with Israel they must also pay a forfeit. Since dead Gazans don’t count, but even constitute a PR asset and help substantiate a myth of heroism similar to the Algerian FLN or the Vietcong, a high casualty rate is no deterrent. Qatar and friends will build bigger and better houses than the ones destroyed.
The only thing that can work is a territorial penalty. Israel should therefore restore the communities it so foolishly destroyed in 2005 with the implication that after every round there will be more Israel and less Gaza. Another possibility is a population exchange in a region witnessing major population transfers in disregard of traditional boundaries. If the Gazans believe that Islam is the answer, why not airlift them to the like-minded caliphate in Al-Sham? Their place can be taken by Christians evicted by the Islamic State who are currently in dire need of sanctuary. 
Contributor Amiel Ungar is also a columnist for the Hebrew weekly