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Past is Prologue

Writing in Haaretz, Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel note the test Israel will face when Hamas resumes firing rockets, which the group surely will:

We have already failed that very test at least three times in the past: After the pullout from Lebanon in 2000, after the disengagement from Gaza in 2005 and during the cease-fire with Hamas in 2008.

In all the aforementioned cases, the threat of a harsh response on Israel’s part turned out to be an empty one, and hostilities against Israel continued to trickle in, eventually resulting in a major conflagration.

Because Israel appears to have chosen a Syria-style approach to Hamas — leaving its leaders in place in the hope that they will be deterred by the punishment the IDF is capable of inflicting on their subordinates — Israel must now demonstrate that it intends to enforce a new and more edgy standoff. Some semblance of honor can still be salvaged if Israel responds to any rocket attacks by inflicting irreversible damage, such as by targeted killings of Hamas leaders and commanders, or by occupying the Philadelphi corridor. A return to the pre-war arrangement, in which Israel acquiesces to an interminable rocket war on several of its cities, will be more than dishonorable, and will mean more than retroactively rendering the Gaza War futile. It will vindicate the Hamas/Hezbollah/Iranian strategy of using small conflagrations to extract concessions and foment world opinion against Israel. In other words, any Israeli reluctance to respond to rocket fire will encourage more of it.

If the “international community” actually cares about peace it will encourage Israeli retaliation to rockets, so that a more useful standoff with Hamas can be established. Of course, the problem is that the international community is not actually interested in peace. Especially among its European members, it is far more intimidated by the way that Israeli military action causes the eruption of the famed Arab street in places like London and Paris. One of the things that the Gaza War seems to have established very clearly is that the tranquility of many European cities depends on restraining the IDF from defending Israel. As European demography continues its ineluctable shift, this problem will only get worse.


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