(June 18, 2018 / JNS) What does a portrait of Israeli society mid-2018 look like? This is a country that has, proportionately, the most number of Jews compared to the United States, but it is not a Jewish country. It is more appropriate to characterize it as a country with a prevalent anti-Zionist atmosphere.
The High Court of Justice functions as the executor of decisions to evacuate settlements, as if on an assembly line. With nary a warning, some 2,500 police show up to empty a few homes in Netiv Ha’avot or an outpost near Tapuach. At Tel University, playing or singing “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem, is forbidden. I suppose that if this was done behind closed doors, without an anti-Semitic public offended by the words having to hear it, it would be permissible to sing the anthem.
In the south, across a wide swathe of land adjacent to the Gaza Strip, dozens of fires rage daily. Fields are burning. A farmer’s entire world goes up in flames. Meanwhile, the children of Kibbutz Nir Am send balloons carrying candy to the peace-seeking people of Gaza. The Israel Defense Forces behave appropriately and ask the civilians how to handle the fires.
Destroying agriculture and burning fields and crops were always among the Arabs’ primary goals in their war on the Jewish community in Israel, ever since the granary at Kibbutz Tel Yosef was set ablaze and pillars of smoke rose from Kibbutz Beit Alfa during the Arab riots of 1929.
Until recently, every platoon commander in the IDF knew how to handle terrorist attacks of this sort. Today, the army’s General Staff, GOC Southern Command, the Gaza Division and the chief consultant on gender issues at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv are all awaiting instructions.
The political echelon must provide a directive, a strategic plan and define goals. How should terrorists carrying out arson attacks be confronted? What should be done with the enemy’s leaders, who have discovered the strategic, game-changing ploy of fence riots and incendiary kites? Every level of command is kicking this problem up the chain to receive approval.
Hamas’s strategy is succeeding for now. While Israel has managed to prevent fence breaches, it seems to have lost sovereignty over the border area. The impression is that the government is not in control over the wide stretch of burning land around Gaza. And if it is not in charge on the border and the burning fields, where is it sovereign?
This loss of sovereignty over the border area is reminiscent of the years preceding the Second Lebanon War, when Hezbollah terrorists controlled the villages in south Lebanon next to the Israeli border. This undermined stability until war eventually erupted. The same could also happen in the Gaza Strip if the Israeli government has indeed lost its ability to make decisions.
In recent years, IDF Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot has boasted a policy of preserving sovereignty over the border and adjacent areas. On the Gaza border, he has failed. And this failure belongs to the entire leadership echelon—from the prime minister on down.