During two days this past week, a multitude of rocket barrages containing over 460 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into the south of Israel. They were sent towards civilian communities adjacent to and surrounding Gaza. Lives were lost, many residents in the south were injured and there was much loss of, and damage to, property. Israel responded militarily and pounded some 160 designated targets in Gaza. And then, as was expected, Hamas called for a cease-fire. And, as expected, we agreed. Despite heavy destruction to strategic sites in Gaza, Hamas claimed victory. Following the cease-fire, Israel’s Minister of Defense, Avigdor Liberman, resigned, stating, among other things: “There is no definition, no other significance, but capitulation to terror…What we are doing now as a country is buying short-term quiet at the cost of our long-term security.” As a result of Liberman’s resignation, Hamas then claimed victory number two, this time, a political one. The events of this past week are not a game of chess. Neither side “won”, but both sides suffered loss.
The resignation of the hard-liner, Liberman, meant the withdrawal of his Israel Beiteinu Party from the coalition government, leaving Netanyahu with a paper-thin majority. Naftali Bennett, the leader of the Jewish Home Party and present Minister of Education, demanded that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appoint him as Minister of Defense to replace Liberman, under a threat to leave the coalition government and force early elections. Due to ongoing conflicts between Netanyahu and Bennett, such an appointment was not expected to take place. And it didn’t. That left the government no choice, but to call for elections, which will most likely take place during the first quarter of 2019.
If the above events were not enough for us in one week, yesterday (Friday) the “Fourth Committee” (“Special Political and Decolonization Committee”) of the General Assembly of the United Nincompoops (U.N.) passed no fewer than nine resolutions condemning Israel, which included one asserting that “unlawful Israeli practices and measures” were responsible for the ongoing crisis in the Gaza Strip, totally ignoring the fact that in 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gush Katif area surrounding Gaza. All in all, one could hardly say it’s been an encouraging week for Israel.
Then, as if to add insult to injury, Hamas terror organization leader Yehya Sinwar claimed Hamas seized Israeli weapons during this week’s confrontation and threatened to kidnap Israeli soldiers, adding: “I advise Israel not to try and test us again.
This time you did not have a lot of casualties and you managed to rescue your special forces…You should not try again, because next time you will have to release thousands of prisoners…Our hands are on the trigger and our eyes are open. Listen Netanyahu, and listen whoever will receive the defense portfolio. Anyone who tests Gaza will find death and poison. If we are attacked, we will let the barrage on Tel Aviv do the talking. Our missiles are more accurate, have a longer range and carry more explosives than before.” This threat is more an expression of bravado than reality. If Hamas had “more accurate” missiles, they would have directed them against more strategic targets, rather than lob them in the direction of residential communities in the south.
But, the question lingers on: Why did the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stop short of neutraliziing the on-going threat from Hamas and “Palestinian” Islamic Jihad (PIJ)? After being involved with three wars with Hamas over the past 10 years, the threats of yet another war with Gaza inches closer each week, as the riots continue along the fence separating Gaza from the communties in the south of Israel. Despite the eight months of border riots, and despite the government’s rhetoric about dealing with the situation and warning Gazans not to approach the fence, Israel has restrained from pursuing a military solution that would extinguish the fuse that can ignite the entire region in another war, which would in all likelihood be a multi-front war.
It is obvious to all, both Israelis and the terrorist organizations that control the Gaza Strip, that Israel has neither intention, nor desire, to take over the coastal enclave. The cost, in terms of manpower, equipment, economics and international condemnation, would be enormous and would far outweigh any potential benefits that may accrue to Israel. The hoped-for calm and quiet that Israel, in general, and that residents in the south, in particular, desire would be elusive at best and destructive, at worst. And then, there remains the unanswered question: Who will take over if Hamas and PIJ are eliminated from Gaza? The gnawing response leads to the oft-repeated phrase, “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.” In either case, the devil remains the devil.
Unfortunately, both Hama and PIJ are both aware of Israel’s political and practical dilemma and have learned how to push Israel to the brink of war, to boast of successes in confrontation with the IDF (despite their own significant losses of military infrastructure), as well as in politics and, on the whole, international opinion. In short, Israel needs to re-evaluate its priorities, strategies and goals regarding its Gazan “thorn in the flesh”. A realistic approach would be to eliminate the leadership of Hamas and PIJ, while leaving the residents of Gaza to replace them with a leadership that is concerned more for the people than about eliminating the State of Israel. The world won’t like us if we pursue such a goal. But, then again, it doesn’t like us now, either. In short, Israel needs to initiate action, rather than retaliate against action that is taken against it.
Part of the problem is Israel’s expressed pursuit of a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. In reality, such a “solution” is not only un-Biblical, it is totally unworkable. A political attempt to resolve the conflict that fails to factor in the Islamic perspective regarding a claimed occupation of Islamic land by foreign powers is doomed to fail from the outset. The land, promised by God to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has come under the control of Islamic forces during centuries past. Islamic theology holds to the belief that land once controlled by Islam remains holy to Islam, even if Islam is “temporarily” removed from it and the land comes under the control of foreigners, who are considered “occupiers”. Hence, the claim of “occupied territory”, as espoused by the “Palestinians” and surrounding Arab countries, would apply to all of Israel, not just to Judea and Samaria, commonly referred to as “the West Bank”. Keeping the prospect of a two-state solution alive only fuels the fire of continuous conflict and opens the possibility that an Israeli government would actually enter into an agreement to allow the establishment of an enemy state in our midst.
Another part of the problem is that Israel does not want to become entangled in Gaza, while it faces the threat of what Israeli officials and military personnel have referred to as a “northern war”, namely, a confrontation between Israel and Iranian-backed forces that would most likely occur with both Lebanon and Syria. Iran refuses to leave the Syrian arena, while Israel has repeatedly stated that it will not allow Iran to become entrenched in Syria. The recent delivery to Syria of Russian-made S-300 ground-to-air defense systems has created additional challenges for Israel to act against Iranian military influence in Syria. Assad’s victories over rebel insurgents, with the help of Russia and Iran, as well as fighters from the terrorist Lebanese Hezbollah, has refocused attention on Syria’s desires to regain control of the Golan Heights. Reliable estimates are that Hezbollah has over 100,000 missiles that can reach every major population center in Israel. The missiles are far more sophisticated and potentially accurate than they were during the last war. No doubt, Israel’s defenses would be able to deter many of them. But, the sheer number of missiles would pose a serious challenge to its air defense systems.
Most military experts are of the opinion that another war with the Hezbollah is inevitable, the only open question being when it will happen? The unpredictability of volatile conflict necessitates a constant readiness to respond to what would certainly be a multi-front war – Hezbollah and the Lebanese army, Syria (including Iranian military support and Russian involvement) and various Shiite militias. Iran would most likely pull the strings of its puppets, Hamas and PIJ, along with other potential actors. No matter how we look at it, the next “northern war” will make the past week’s Gaza no-war war seem like a walk in the park.
Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. (Psalm 121:4)
On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; all day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the LORD, take no rest for yourselves; and give Him no rest until He establishes and make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. (Isaiah 62:6-7)
Bless, be blessed and be a blessing!
Have a great, God-honoring week.