The day will come when the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has achieved the objectives of the Iron Swords war. Hamas will lose both its military and its governing capabilities entirely.
This will happen for two primary reasons: the strength of the IDF and the determination of our soldiers, and Hamas’s betrayal of the two million residents of Gaza. Hamas uses them as human shields and inculcates them with deep-seated hatred for Israel and its people, as if their source of misery and hardship lies beyond the border. Yet, on the other side of the border, the fields flourished, the flowers blossomed, youth celebrated in the great outdoors, and the laughter of children playing in amusement parks could be heard.
Gaza possesses economic potential. The new administration in the Strip, following the 2005 expulsion of the “devil” – 8,600 Israelis – could have turned Gaza into an economic haven for the well-being of its residents. Instead, the oppressive regime did nothing to improve the quality of life of the residents or to help them achieve independence.
After decades of violent and corrupt rule, we must provide the Gazans with a vision of a different life – one without hatred, without jealousy, and with a focus on their well-being. Gaza has the potential to become the Singapore of the Middle East. Countries like the UAE and Saudi Arabia, for example, with their financial resources, harnessed opportunities for normalization with the Jewish state for the benefit of their people.
While Gaza lacks oil, it can become the breadbasket of the Middle East, producing fruits and vegetables. From my military service in the reserves, I remember the pristine beaches in Gaza, which could easily attract tourists from around the world. Former president and prime minister Shimon Peres once dreamed of a Club Med in the Shati Refugee Camp.
It is time for a 'Marshall Plan' for Gaza
The problem of overcrowding could be solved by building artificial islands off the coast of Gaza, a concept already implemented in our neighboring region. What is needed is a “Marshall Plan” that would bring about the necessary change and foster close relationships with all the people in the area.
Indeed, the Gazans have undergone severe brainwashing, and they harbor deep-seated hatred for Jews and Israel, but a vision without a murderous, oppressive regime has the potential to bring about the desired peace. For the skeptics, I’ll offer one historical fact: In 1945, did anyone imagine that Nazi Germany, responsible for the death of 50 million people, including six million Jews, would become a leading nation in Europe, fighting for human rights and accepting hundreds of thousands of foreigners? The same Germany, steeped in murderous hatred, became our ally, second only to the United States.
The transformation in the German education system from virulent hatred for Jews in the decade leading up to the war to a liberal and pluralistic education system is due in part to the intervention of the Allied powers, especially the United States.
Let us not give up hope. Leadership is measured by the ability to change an existing situation. The more dire the situation, the greater the opportunity for significant leadership.
The day after Hamas is eliminated will be a tremendous challenge for the world. Global leadership, together with local leadership (both in our region and among our neighbors), can bring about the long-awaited change for all of us.
The writer served as senior political adviser to Shimon Peres from 1990 to 2016.