The Palestinian Authority scored a major victory today in its campaign to secure international recognition as the government of an independent “Palestine” when UNESCO voted to admit it as a member state. But the actual Palestinian state — the one in Gaza where the Hamas terrorist group exercises virtually untrammeled sovereignty — gave the world another reminder of what such statehood actually means this weekend when it showered southern Israel with a barrage of missiles. One Israeli, 56-year-old Moshe Ami of Ashkelon was murdered in one of the attacks.
Ami’s death and the ongoing missile fire from Hamas and allied Islamist groups such as Islamic Jihad is being treated as just another one of those boring “cycle of violence” stories in most of the mainstream media in which the lead is as often as not about Israeli retaliation strikes aimed at silencing the missile fire. The focus of international diplomacy is, as always, the restoration of a meaningless cease-fire between Hamas and Israel that will last until the next time the rulers of Gaza feel like sending a message to Jerusalem. But the real message here is one that few are heeding. Palestinian independence in Gaza has only meant one thing: the right of terrorists to shoot at Jews with impunity.
The rocket attacks continued Monday night with more rockets landing in southern Israel though one was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. As was the case when fire from Gaza was at its height before Israel’s counter-offensive in December 2008, casualty figures caused by these rockets have been small but incessant. Though Israel still retains the ability to hit back hard against those firing the rockets, there is no escaping the fact that so long as Hamas governs Gaza there is no real hope of ending these attacks once and for all.
Israel has no desire to resume the governance of Gaza from which it withdrew completely in August of 2005 only to see the area become a secure missile-firing platform. Nor do the majority of Israelis have any wish to go on controlling areas of the West Bank where most Palestinians live. But those who harp on the evils of the “occupation” or speak of forcing more Israeli territorial withdrawals to save the country from itself rarely consider the consequences of what de facto (if not de jure) Palestinian independence in Gaza has meant to Israel.
The Hamas state in Gaza is a heavily armed terrorist regime that has never hesitated to project force against Israeli targets in order to score political points with a Palestinian political culture that still equates violence with credibility. Further empowering the PA and its Fatah leadership does nothing to quell that violence or to silence the rockets or attempts to duplicate Hamas’s successful kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. Israel’s critics must stop ignoring Gaza and its rockets when they speak of the need for Palestinian self-determination. So long as Palestinian independence is solely expressed via terrorism, the notion of an end to the conflict is purely theoretical. That’s the clear lesson that the actual Palestinian state — as opposed to the pretend one that Fatah pretends to lead — has been teaching us again this week.