Hamas has been concerned ever since last week about the nature of the covert Israeli mission in Khan Yunis. Things may have deteriorated, but it was enough to spark fear in Hamas that the daring intelligence-gathering mission was a prelude to an impending, deadly Israeli blow.
In Israel, the critics also delved into the issue, especially given the questions that arose over Israel’s policy in the Gaza Strip. This, in turn, raised the question of who is a leader. The answer is that a true leader is one who is willing to pay a price at the polls and even risk destabilizing his government to do what it takes for the good of his people and country.
Israeli politics, however, would confuse anyone. If Israel strikes Gaza, the various “peace-lovers” among us complain that the government is all too eager to “sacrifice our soldiers” in another ”reckless round of futile bloodshed,” and they decry the lack of ”proportionality” and the “foolish” refusal to negotiate with the ”moderates” on the Palestinian side.
If Israel avoids mounting a strike in Gaza over security considerations that the military and other security services deem valid, the critics lambaste the government’s weakness, hesitation and “cowardly policy.”
Ironically, in such cases, it is left-wing lawmakers who demand a pound of flesh, as they are eager to devour each other for spoils not gained in the first place.
Hamas is something of a caged monster that cannot be appeased and will not disappear. Nothing in its teachings mentions humanity or moderation; its religious legacy is based on destroying Israel, killing its citizens, raping its women and plundering its assets. Hamas sees Israel’s self-imposed moral restraints as a straitjacket and as proof of our stupidity and weakness.
Israel’s anxiety about its international image allows Hamas to make brazen statements and extortionist demands. In its attempts to defraud the world, Hamas claims to have severed ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, but its leaders would gouge out both their eyes provided Israel loses one eye.
True, the government’s restraint during the recent flare-up on the Israel-Gaza border is frustrating and infuriating, but prudence really is the best course of action. We know that patience is a virtue and that the score will be settled eventually.
In the meantime, the West is trying to eradicate homegrown Islamist cells and is chasing them down across the Middle East. Internationally, Hamas will eventually be perceived as a cancerous Islamic tumor that must be curtailed for the good of the entire world.
Until that happens, dealing with a “chronic disease” like Hamas is better than confronting the savage Islamic State group. This is why Israel prefers a weakened Hamas to survive and is in no rush to replace it.
Still, as Hamas, like the mythical hydra, occasionally sprouts new heads in the form of terrorist proxies, the need to cut them down also occasionally arises.
The idea of helping Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reimpose his rule on Gaza after being driven out in 2007 is ridiculous. Like Hamas, the Palestinian Authority also believes in the gradual plan of armed resistance against Israel, reinstating the “right of return” and usurping Jerusalem. If anything, the schism between the Palestinian factions has led to a pre-1967 situation, in which the West Bank is something of Jordan’s concern and Gaza is Egypt’s concern.
We must use our technological advantage and refrain from sending troops into Gaza. There is also no point in wasting money and munitions on “knock on the roof” warnings. If there is sufficient deterrence, there is no need to reach an understanding with Hamas that will allow it to build up its arsenal.
The principle of proportionality corresponds with the hypocrisy of political correctness. The hypocritical West knows from experience that only disproportionate blows yield decisive results. We will get there. All we need is patience.
Dr. Reuven Berko was the adviser on Arab affairs to the Jerusalem district police and a writer for Israel Hayom.