Although the media and many observers have described the Hamas-inspired and directed riots, it has not explained them or put them into a context.
The riots are the logical conclusion of the “Disengagement,” Israel’s mistake in withdrawing from the Gaza Strip in 2005. The conflict is not about territory, or claims of property lost in the Arab war of annihilation which they launched in 1948. It is about Israel’s existence, and about an internal Arab power struggle.
The riots demonstrate Hamas’ ability to motivate large numbers of Arabs to sacrifice themselves for a ‘higher cause:’ the war against Israel, Zionism, the Jewish people and the world.
The border fence, therefore, serves as a symbol that not only represents Israel’s power and determination, but also – as a representation of Israeli sovereignty – invites attack. Just as Israel must defend its border fence, Arabs must seek to destroy it either by direct attacks, or by tunnels.
The riots also reveal the struggle between Hamas and its rival, Fatah and the Palestinian Authority. While the PA is willing to make some accommodations and concessions to Israel, Hamas will not compromise. That explains the appeal and power of Islamists, such as ISIS and al Qaida, to carry on their war against – as they they see them — “the infidels.” It’s not just against Israel and the Jews, but anything and everything that does not conform to what Islamists define as Islamist purity.
The attacks against the border fence, therefore, are part of a “holy war,” Jihad, mandated by Islam and encouraged by Islamists.
The border fence, therefore, is not only a symbol of Israeli sovereignty; it is a symbol of non-Muslim hegemony and superiority which is seen as “oppressing and persecuting Muslims” that must be destroyed in order to preserve and maintain the ‘purity of Islam.’ Suicidal attacks against the fence, like those against other targets throughout the world, are carried out by those willing to sacrifice themselves for what they believe is a “holy” purpose. That’s why they are called “martyrs;” they are willing to die for their cause, Islam.
For Hamas and Islamists, the fence is a perfect symbol; it defines the conflict. The “good guys” are on one side; the “bad guys” are on the other side. Breaching and destroying the fence becomes a way of demonstrating not only one’s courage, but – more importantly – one’s faith. It is not only an act of self-sacrifice, but one of self-affirmation and redemption.
Everyone who planned, supported and engaged in the “Disengagement” is complicit. They should have known, or at least anticipated that Israel would likely be drawn into a quicksand swamp from which it could not escape and which would only further the conflict. The riots at the fence confirm the warnings and predictions at the time — which have come true.
The Arab riots are an indication of what can be expected from another Arab Palestinian state, and why such a state is a clear and present danger. We now know the “price tag” of the “Disengagement,” and what future Israeli withdrawals will cost in lives and treasure. Caveat emptor.
The author is a PhD historian, writer and journmalist in Israel.