It is a sad commentary, and unfortunately an apt metaphor: At least one Gazan was killed and dozens were injured by “celebratory” gunfire after the announcement of a truce. Once again, it seems the gravest threat to Gazans comes not from Israel but from a mindset that catapults the region into war, destroys millions of dollars in property and kills and wounds civilians.
While right-wing Israeli pols are upset that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not continue the fight to “destroy” Hamas, in fact Israel achieved what it set out to do. There is nothing whatsoever that Hamas or the people of Gaza gained from this war. Yossi Melman writes in the Jerusalem Post:
Hamas was forced to accept Egyptian and Israeli dictates.
Hamas crawled to the cease-fire. One should not be impressed by the well-organized victory festivities in Gaza. Most of Hamas’s demands and preconditions were rejected from the outset.
The cease-fire is unlimited in time and Hamas was not promised anything except that which had been offered at the start of the military campaign.
Full of itself and arrogant, it miscalculated. If Hamas had not rejected the offers, Israel would not have launched a ground incursion. Hamas’s 32 attacking tunnels would not have been destroyed. Its rockets and mortar shells wouldn’t be reduced to a residual arsenal of 20 percent – from 10,000 to approximately 2,000.
And most importantly, parts of Gaza wouldn’t have been destroyed.
Netanyahu and top government officials smartly never promised to destroy Hamas during the current war, so they cannot be accused of setting expectations too high. The fitting analogy here is to the 2006 Lebanon war:
Hezbollah was defeated. Its secretary-general admitted it in public. But then he heard Israeli defense commentators who criticized the war’s conduct by then prime minister Ehud Olmert’s government and regained his self-confidence. Hassan Nasrallah told himself that if stupid Israel thought that it was defeated, so let it – and declared his false victory.
Eight years later, it is quite clear that war brought Israel significant gains at the strategic level. Northern Israel has enjoyed peace and tranquility.
Hezbollah is deterred and doesn’t dare to initiate violent and aggressive actions against the Jewish state. Nasrallah himself is in hiding fearing for his life.
The truce is unsatisfying if one expected Hamas to “get it” — to admit abject defeat — or if one expected a final resolution to the Gaza mess. These are not in the realm of possibility, just as a two-state solution with the enfeebled Palestinian Authority is not in the cards for the foreseeable future. Americans, and even some Israelis who should know better from past experience, insist that there must be a peaceful solution because they say there is no alternative. That’s a logical fallacy. No peace process is in the cards, and there is no alternative — these things coexist.
Some problems are managed, and others are solved. Gaza and the West Bank fall into the former category. What Israel can do is demonstrate time and time again that terrorism is not the road to independence for the Palestinians. In the meantime, Israel in concert with nervous Sunni states can make progress on other fronts, even as the U.S. president dawdles. They can show a united front against Iran and its surrogates, as Egypt and Israel did in the Gaza truce talks. They can expand that relationship to include mutual defense arrangements and cooperation, if need be, in military action against Iran. And therein lies the troubling reality for all those intoxicated by peace processing: Until Islamic jihadists and the leading state sponsor of terror (Iran) are routed, there is no peace with the local branches (e.g. Hezbollah and Hamas).
The Saudi foreign minister said it best, as captured in the WikiLeaks cables: One must cut off the head of the snake. That is where the United States (if it had decent leadership) and its allies should turn next.