At least four Israelis have been killed and several others seriously wounded in a mortar attack on a home in the Eshkol Regional Council, next to the Gaza border this afternoon. The wounded have been rushed to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba. The IDF is responding by vigorously shelling Hamas targets in Gaza.
While such a targeted murder of Israeli civilians should certainly be responded to, and responded to harshly, the war in Gaza can be waged much more effectively with a more proactive political/military approach that I believe Israel is ready for. In a recent survey, a whopping 87% of Israelis have expressed their support for the continuation of the operation. In fact, some unexpected prominent Cabinet members, like left-leaning Finance Minister Yair Lapid, have expressed a willingness to consider a broadening of the operation to include "reconquering" Gaza.
This would be a wise move for several reasons:
1. According to military intelligence experts, Gaza can only be effectively secured and demilitarized by full Israeli control of the region.
2. The Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations would never agree to disarm as part of a negotiated agreement.
3. Gaza is part of the historic Land of Israel, so a reassertion of Israeli authority over the region would be morally just, even if it's only done at first for tactical security reasons.
Once Israel fully reasserts its authority over Gaza, the wounds from the 2005 Israeli withdrawal from Gaza can finally begin to heal by allowing Jewish Israelis to once again build homes in Gush Katif, where Hamas missile launching pads have sadly taken the place of the once vibrant agricultural communities. Barring an official apology for the traumatic forced expulsion of 7,000 Jews from their homes, this would at least be seen as a tacit national admission that the withdrawal from Gaza was a tragic mistake.
This step-by-step approach should be taken by Israel's political leadership gradually, yet unapologetically, calmly explaining to the world the justice and the logic of each phase in the process. Will there be criticism? Certainly, but that is no reason not to go forward. The return to the historic Land of Israel has been fraught with great obstacles that are often not military, and critical world opinion is one such challenge. May we be worthy of confronting and succeeding in meeting the challenges that lie ahead!.