Time to get serious about Gaza

Terror rockets, terror tunnels, terror kites, terror balloons - this is a war, not a list of terror attacks. Why are we treating them like pesky terrorists instead of an enemy regime?

Mordechai Smith, | updated: 20:12

OpEds Mordechai Smith
Mordechai Smith

Anyone following the ongoing saga of violence in the Gaza region in recent weeks – and even years – can see a common theme which keeps re-appearing – the reluctance of the Israeli Government and/or army to take decisive action to solve the problem of constant attacks against Israel and its citizens from Gaza.

But why this reluctance?

For years, the ‘dribble’ of rockets fired from Gaza was tolerated. When in 2008-09 and 2012, the intensity increased, the government finally ordered the defence forces to take action – with precision attacks on rockets and launchers, often preceded by warnings to nearby civilians to move out the way. However, weapons in and on hospitals, or where no warnings could be delivered, were spared.

When tunnels dug under Israel’s border, deep into Israeli territory, were discovered, it was allegedly only after Naftali Bennett’s arm-twisting of fellow ministers (and the Prime Minister) that the cabinet finally agreed to take action against them – and then it was done in a rush before a cease-fire came into effect.

Now we have the phenomenon of arson kites and balloons. And what is Israel’s reaction? As Arutz Sheva reported on June 17 towards the beginning of the phenomenon,  ‘IDF attacks vehicle of head of kite terror squad’. However, the IDF obviously knew that the car’s owner was nowhere near his car.

In a later article, Arutz Sheva reported ‘IDF fires at terrorists launching arson balloons’. The article clarified by quoting the IDF as saying that “an IDF aircraft fired shots near a group of Palestinians who launched arson balloons in the southern Gaza Strip.”

The reason for these deliberate ‘near misses’ was made clear by a following article, ‘Ministers demand kite terrorists be killed - but IDF opposed’.

Whether the lack of action is due to the army, as the article claims, or decisions of the Government, which is more likely in previous times, the inability to ‘solve the problem’ stems from an inability to recognise what the problem is.

We are told umpteen times by Government and military spokesmen that Gaza is ruled by Hamas, a ‘terrorist’ organisation. They talk of ‘terror’ targets, ‘terror’ rockets, ‘terror’ tunnels and now we have ‘terror’ kites and ‘terror’ balloons.

But what is ‘terror’ anyway? With this obsession in branding everything in Gaza as ‘terror’ they are ignoring the fact that the leadership of Gaza is actually conducting not terrorism but … a war.

Gaza is, for all intents and purposes, a regime, with its own government and a military force. And ironically, the Israeli government wants it that way so it has someone it can hold accountable, and because the only viable alternative is a return to so-called Israeli ‘occupation’ which the government has made clear is the only option not on the table - and would only be achieved at a great cost in Israeli lives..

When a state imports and builds rockets, fires them at a neighbouring country, builds tunnels into its territory and does whatever it can to burn and destroy that neighbour, most rational people would call that waging a war.

But recognising that you are at war means you actually have to fight like you’re at war. You have to fight to win. Winning means destroying the enemy who is attacking you, or at least putting him in a position where he can no longer attack you. That means putting an end to the Hamas regime in Gaza.

And because that’s the last thing the Israeli Government wants, the ongoing tit-for-tat “anti-terrorist” operations will continue.

Until the Government’s cost-benefit analysis shows that a new policy is needed.