Why Israel Will Keep Bombing Gaza
Throughout the world there are calls for Israel to enact a cease fire to spare more innocent Palestinian lives and to reverse an on-going humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Yet, despite these calls and despite the increasing enmity of the world and despite the numerous groups in the United States, including Jewish groups, pleading for restraint, Israel bombs on. Why?
I think it is important to grasp a few reasons.
First, the October 7 killing spree by Hamas was the greatest assault on Jews since the Holocaust. It is critical to the new Jewish identity that Israel cannot be seen as rolling over in any way. The old stereotype of anything but an active, vibrant, strong Jew must be eradicated forever. What would America do if armed troops crossed the border in Mexico and killed 1400 citizens of El Paso? Good-bye Mexico City.
Second, Hamas and its sponsors in Iran will not understand anything but raw power. It is essentially what they were saying when they committed the atrocities of October 7. The message is that Hamas will do anything to kill Jews and take the land that is now Israel. A tepid response that shows any humanity at all will be interpreted as weakness by Hamas and Iran. These are not rational actors and Israel knows that from years of bitter experience. Furthermore, if the reports are true that Hamas has amassed fuel, food, and water in the tunnels for its own use yet denies it to the citizens of Gaza, what is Israel supposed to do about that?
Third, Israel is now and has been for 3000 years the home of the Jewish people. We aren’t going anywhere.
Fourth, Hamas knows well that if it released the hostages, the bombing might stop. Might. Israel is pretty focused and united as a country that Hamas will be gone from Gaza, “once and for all” one way or another. Do I think that the hostages are retrievable? Yes. They were in Iran in 1981, but intermediaries are going to have to take risks to get them out. Neither the U.S. nor Israel has a whole lot of leverage and none if the bombing stops, so no cease fire.
The people of Gaza who elected, hid, and nurtured Hamas are no more innocent than the Israelis who voted for Netanyahu and the ultranationalist and ultra-religious parties in the last election.
The world has not awoken to the idea that the Jews are in an existential struggle for their future and it is being threatened on all sides. The enemy does not value life. It lauds martyrs and embraces killing.
Israel has no choice. Either Hamas surrenders unconditionally, gives up the hostages, and leaves Gaza or the fires of hell will rain down all around them. And, if they were so concerned about the people they supposedly govern, why build its rocket launchers and tunnels among civilian homes and hospitals? Hamas does use innocents as human shields and always has. They are cowards. And they are cowards who diverted billions of Qatari dollars to building tunnels and arming themselves rather than bolstering the economy of the enclave they governed. They always wanted war. Now they have it. Hamas has never cared about the Palestinian people of Gaza or of the West Bank.
It seems that Americans who are living through escalating gun violence, misguided politicians of both stripes, and a history of wars that have led to nothing but the loss of blood and treasure, should understand the Israeli drive to eliminate Hamas and, in fact, all Iranian surrogates this time around. Like Americans, all Israelis want is to live in peace.
Now the leadership of Israel, like that of the United States, has been woefully deficient for years. Maybe this will get the Israelis of sound mind to focus on creating a way to live with their Arab neighbors and the Palestinians will develop like-minded leaders of their own.
The ultimate solution is right in front of us. Israel must create a Palestinian state in the West Bank and if that means dismantling some settlements, then so be it, BUT, remember, Israel did this in Gaza years ago and what it got in return was Hamas and October 7. The international community must guarantee a free but non-violent Palestinian state next to Israel, which is exactly what most Palestinians want anyway.
I mourn for the unnecessary loss of life on both sides, but there is no doubt who started this round. And there is no doubt who will finish it.
This piece by the great Tom Friedman outlines the current situation well.
I wish I knew how to create a two-state solution with the backing of the Sunni Gulf states. I wish I knew how to dissuade the Netanyahu government from undermining the judiciary and pull back on some of the settlements. But the constant fear in Israel is that the Palestinians do not really want land for peace. They want all the land from the Jordan to the Mediterranean.
And to put it simply, that will never happen. And if Israel has to go to war to prove it, it will.