The (real) new Middle East

Only by staying true to our principles and meeting the terrorist aggression with decisive action can we hope to assure true safety and security for the citizens of Israel.

Building hit by rocket in Rishon Letzion 150 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Building hit by rocket in Rishon Letzion 150
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
The latest round of conflict in Israel’s South (and Center) has come to an end with yet another internationally brokered cease-fire. While I generally believe it is foolish to make long-term predictions regarding the Middle East, it is more than fair to assume that Hamas will not ultimately uphold its end of the bargain, thereby making it only a matter of time before the terrorist organization which controls Gaza breaks the cease-fire agreement it reached with Egypt’s help.
We must be ready to act. Too many times, Israel has made grandiose statements following diplomatic maneuvers which threaten our enemies with harsh retaliation if they test our will to respond.
Unfortunately, we have consistently failed to back up our threats with action.
Starting today, a clear equation must be imparted to the world that delineates when and how we will act when our citizens are threatened again.
Hamas is a terrorist organization that only understands force. The people of Gaza must understand that there are real consequences for their support of such an entity.
During his press conference announcing the cease-fire on Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned that Israel would not hesitate to again act militarily if Hamas dares to repeat its attacks on Israel. This is not the first time our leadership has put the world on notice following a diplomatic agreement reached by the State of Israel.
In May 2000, then-prime minister Ehud Barak pulled Israel completely out of the Security Zone in south Lebanon – a military strip of land that was established to keep the communities of the Galilee safe. Upon completing the unilateral withdrawal, Barak announced that in this new reality where the Israel Defense Forces were stationed on the international border, any attack by Hezbollah would be met with “all our might.”
Barak did not keep true to his word and five months later when Hezbollah launched missiles at our towns and abducted three of our soldiers, we stood by and did nothing.
Leaders of my party have also not been blameless for creating a situation where our words are regarded as empty threats. In August 2005, prime minister Ariel Sharon removed all Israeli settlements and military installations in the Gaza Strip as part of his disengagement plan.
Once the last Israeli had left Gaza, Sharon declared, “To an outstretched hand of peace we will respond with an olive branch, but expressions of terror will be met by fire more intense than ever.”
We all know that this was not acted upon.
Instead, time and again Israel acted with “restraint” as Hamas continued to fire more and more missiles at the communities of the South. Only after the rate and scope of Hamas attacks become truly unbearable did Israel respond with Operation Cast Lead in December 2008/January 2009 and now with Operation Pillar of Defense.
It is time for a new paradigm to be enforced. We must act quickly and clearly state the price to pay for every terrorist act emanating from Gaza that breaks the current cease-fire. Our government should declare that the first mortar shell to hit our territory will result in Israel disconnecting the electricity we provide to Gaza for 10 hours.
The first rocket – whether it be a Kassam or a Fajr – to make its way into our airspace will be met with the water supply to Gaza being severed as well.
If any Israeli property is damaged or, God forbid, life is threatened, we will retaliate with harsh military action similar to what the IDF has undertaken over the past week.
Finally, a sustained barrage of missiles as we have experienced recently will be met with a full Israeli ground invasion of Gaza and a dismantling of the Hamas regime.
Most important, Israel must act exactly according to this new model to ensure that our words are heeded by the Hamas leadership.
I have no desire to cause needless suffering for the Palestinian people, and I do not want Israel to take charge of the day-to-day lives of Gazans, but we must put an end to this absurd reality whereby our citizens are threatened by rockets while we continue to provide basic services to the people launching them at Israeli civilians.
Can anyone imagine a situation where the United Kingdom would have provided water and electricity to the people of Germany while the Nazis continued with their Blitz of London? Of course not.
I know that Netanyahu is a strong leader who has worked tirelessly over the course of his term in government to keep the people of Israel safe. This is why I am confident that if we find ourselves in a strong enough political position after the election, a new security reality will take hold.
Only by staying true to our principles and meeting the terrorist aggression with decisive action can we hope to assure true safety and security for the citizens of Israel.
Likud MK Danny Danon is deputy speaker of the Knesset and author of Israel: The Will to Prevail.