Déjà vu all over again

Sadly, there is no easy solution to the Gaza problem.

The damaged house in Beersheba from the rocket attack on Wednesday, October 17, 2018. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The damaged house in Beersheba from the rocket attack on Wednesday, October 17, 2018.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
It feels like we’ve been here before. And we have. Since Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005 and Hamas assumed power in the summer of 2007, there has been Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012 and Operation Protective Edge in 2014 – all aimed at keeping the residents of southern Israel safe, and preventing rocket attacks and tunnel infiltrations into Israel from Gaza.
The terrorist regime in Gaza, and its like-minded murderous cronies from the Islamic Jihad and any number of offshoots, have consistently ignored the needs of their people and created a hell on earth for the residents of Gaza. Instead of using their budgets and international aid to improve the quality of life for the residents by improving infrastructure and creating jobs, they’ve spent hundreds of millions of dollars on devising new ways to attack Israel with mortars, rockets, via tunnels and more.
The latest aggression took place in the early hours of Wednesday, when a long-range rocket fired from Gaza struck a home in Beersheba, causing extensive damage. Miraculously, the residents – a 39-year-old woman and her three children aged nine, 10 and 12 – were not physically injured, being treated only for shock. Another rocket landed in the sea off of the Gush Dan region.
In response, the Israel Air Force hit 20 targets across Gaza including a tunnel in the South, which according to Palestinian reports resulted in fatalities. Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad were quick to absolve themselves of responsibility for the attack.
“We reject any irresponsible attempt to destroy the Egyptian efforts” to reach a cease-fire agreement with Israel, the joint statement said, “including the rocket fire last night.”
However, the IDF insisted that only Hamas and Islamic Jihad have the type of long-range rockets that can reach Beersheba and beyond.
As Beersheba Mayor Ruvik Danilovich said on Wednesday in a radio interview, there should be no tolerance for any type of “normal” situation in which a major Israeli city is under siege. He is right.
Is there any sovereign democratic country that would take it in stride if a rocket launched by an enemy that seeks its destruction landed on a house in one of its cities? Of course not.
The problem is, what can Israel do about it?
Former deputy head of the Southern Command Brig.-Gen. (res.) Zvika Fogel, who was a military leader during Operation Cast Lead, has one suggestion. In an interview with Reshet Bet, he said the only way to stop the ongoing Hamas aggression is for Israel to launch a land campaign in Gaza – go house-to-house and remove Hamas from power. In essence, to reoccupy Gaza and face a huge soldier casualty count.
That is an option that should go on the table when the security cabinet convenes only as a last resort. Israel did not leave the Gaza Strip in 2005 to reoccupy it now, and have to once again care for the needs of nearly two million Palestinians, many of them hostile to the State of Israel.
Sadly, there does not seem to be a clear cut military solution to the threats posed to Israel in Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not have a simple task balancing some of the more militant demands of his cabinet with an effort to stave off conflict as long as possible. At the same time, there are Egyptian efforts to restore calm and peace to the South.
The IDF needs to strike back and restore deterrence; but to be caught again in a Gaza quagmire that would be costly in loss of life on both sides is not something for which this country seems to have any appetite.
Hamas needs to pay a price and learn that it cannot get away with firing rockets and missiles indiscriminately into Israel. To achieve that, Israel will need to be patient and resilient. Sadly, there is no easy solution to the Gaza problem.