Op-Ed: Don’t Pass On Hamas to the Next Generation
When the siren rang at the beginning of last Shabbat, I was not afraid. I thought it must have been a mistake and in any case what was the likelihood that the rocket would hit my apartment?
I made aliyah during a period of relative calm in Israel. Israel had these sort of things under control, at least it seemed, so there was nothing to worry about. Even when I visited Israel in July 2006 during the outbreak of the Second Lebanon War, aside from the reports, I myself was not affected or frightened by the situation. I also come from a country (the United States) which is relatively peaceful and has been mostly untouched by war within its borders for a long time.
So with the siren blaring, I just could not imagine a rocket crashing into anywhere near my home or neighborhood or anywhere else in Jerusalem.
Even as the reality of rockets settles in, I live in Jerusalem which, since end of the Second intifada, remains one of the safest parts of the country especially with regard to rockets from Hamas and Hizbullah.
But over Shabbat, I thought about my 9-month old daughter. I thought about the likelihood that over the course of her life, my daughter would be threatened, injured or worse by Hamas and other terrorist entities whose existence we choose to tolerate.
Hamas and its sister terror groups operating in Gaza exist solely to kill and maim us. During these periods of calm we may feel safe, but we shouldn’t.
That feeling was augmented this week by a photo circulating on facebook of a small girl whose face was torn up in the bus bombing in Tel Aviv on Wednesday.
It’s hard to understand how any Israeli with a child could accept the ceasefire Israel has entered into. It’s hard to understand how they don’t have an overriding desire to see Hamas and similar entities completely destroyed, their members and leaders captured or killed, blown to smithereens.
Hamas and its sister terror groups operating in Gaza exist solely to kill and maim us. During these periods of calm we may feel safe, but we shouldn’t. That is when they are plotting, rearming and waiting for the right time to attack.
And for those who have sons who will serve in the Israel Defense Forces – I hope to have one myself - how many times must we send our young soldiers to fight the enemy and risk their lives because we did not have the courage to finish the job?
None of this is to mention the strategic factor. Most people view Hamas as a non-existential threat. It can inflict some damage, but nothing major. Wrong.
Hamas can shut down a huge swath of the country and our industry at any moment. How long will citizens continue to live in the South if this is the reality they must live with? The same goes for the North where residents are under rocket threat from Hezbollah. How many businesses will invest in areas where business is subject to constant disruption?
Hamas and Hezbollah threaten us from the North and South. Today, we enjoy relative quiet in Judea and Samaria due to the lasting affects of Operation Defensive Shield. However, if more withdrawals take place or a Palestinian state is established that calm will not hold. Then, on our Northern, Southern and Eastern borders we will be subject to the threat of attack, perhaps simultaneous.
The threats of groups like Hamas and Hizbullah should also be seen as indirect threats from other enemies, like Iran. Iran established Hizbullah in Lebanon and backs Hamas in Gaza. The very threat of Hezbollah raining rockets on Israel as it did in 2006 has many Israelis petrified of using force to stop Iran’s nuclear program, which is an existential threat.
Hamas is also an offshoot of the ruling party in Egypt, which is renewing its aggressive posture towards Israel. Remember that Egypt was and will likely re-emerge as the key player in the region. It will determine when and how the war against Israel will be executed. Hamas gives the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt potential access to the Gaza strip, bringing the threat of Egypt much closer to a lot more of Israel.
That should be very alarming considering all the talk of “cancelling,” “amending,” “reviewing” and“renegotiating” the peace treaty and the recent introduction of heavy weaponry into the Sinai, even if it was temporary. Many Egyptians feel that the Sinai is still occupied by Israel, a wrong that requires fixing.
Egypt’s heightened interest in Gaza, evidenced by their desire to be a broker between Hamas and Israel and the fact that they sent their Prime Minister to Gaza at the outbreak of hostilities with Israel, signals that Egypt is coming to view Gaza as its protectorate. Eventually, an Israeli response to Hamas attacks will have to be balanced by the possible Egyptian reaction – in addition to international criticism and U.S. pressure.
So while Hamas and Hizbullah are not themselves direct existential threats to Israel, the manner in which they are used poses an existential threat. That’s why they are so dangerous; indirect threats work because they don’t hit the enemy where he is strongest or where he is most concerned with the possibility of attack. They can thus be used in ways the enemy does not anticipate and that is why they have, throughout history, been the secret to military success.
But leaving all that strategic analysis aside, these are terrorists, whose goal is to kill and destroy us. That is not a reality we should have to live with, not while we have the firepower to change it. It certainly isn’t a reality we should be passing on to our children, whether the ceasefire holds or not.