Not a penny. This should be the answer from Israel to the donors who gathered in Egypt last weekend to promise $5.4 Billion to Gaza.
Not a penny to Gaza until Hamas disarms and hands over its weapons to the IDF. Not a penny until Israel is compensated for the destruction to its homes, property and economy. Not a penny until Qatar and the other terror-funder states pay for the destruction they created. Not a penny until the families of the dead and wounded in Israel are compensated.
For over a month Israeli army reservists fought in the Gaza war, their salaries alone, paid for by the state, cost nearly $500 Million. The loss to the A misnomer often quoted by Israel’s foes was that the collateral losses on the Arab side were innocent, but they most decidedly were not.
overall economy is harder to compute, given that these mainly male reservists, in the prime of their working lives, are likely to have an above average contribution in the higher revenue-generating sectors of the economy. These sectors require engineers, technicians and a host of working-age graduates that the reservists mainly hail from; their absence, wrenched from their families and jobs, caused millions of losses to their firms and the country as a whole.
Then there is the Iron Dome that was used to shoot down the thousands of rockets Hamas attacked Israel with. Iron Dome, while a marvellous success for Israeli science and engineering did not come cheap. A fraction of its funding was borne by the USA, keen to use the results of cheaper and more effective Israeli R&D efforts, but the vast brunt of its expense was paid for by the Israeli taxpayer. Each Tamir interceptor missile costs around $100,000 dollars and the missile batteries that are needed to run these cost around $50 Million. Thousands of interceptor missiles were needed to counter the thousands of rockets that were sent from Gaza to kill and maim Israeli civilians this summer. Is Israel to allow the war criminals who run Gaza, to be forgiven and repaid? Is it to allow Gaza to re-arm, while the people of Israel suffer yet more Arab war crimes?
A whole country was put on hold for over a month. Tourism dropped off to record lows while American and European airlines cancelled flights, agricultural harvests, in the now-enlarged Gaza belt stretching 50 km north up to Tel Aviv itself, were destroyed as the missiles rained down. The Ministry of Finance had calculated early on in the conflict that the total costs of the war could be around $2.3 billion dollars. These conservative estimates actually didn’t take account of the eventual length of the war, lasting over 6 weeks with the odd ceasefire, broken when Hamas felt it was advantageous to re-attack. The adjusted costs may well be close to the $5 billion mark, now promised in Cairo for Hamas.
We have not yet considered the human costs. Seventy three Israelis and one Thai national were killed, thousands were injured. Their deaths in particular have destroyed thousands of lives of their friends and families. Aside from the terrible emotional losses, the loss of their bread-winning fathers and sons also exacts a long term economic burden for their families to bear. The pain of their tragedies is incalculable. For a nation like Israel, that values life and that seeks to protect its people, this cost is indeed immense.
This is an utterly foreign concept to the Qataris or their Islamist friends in ISIS or even Erdogan’s AKP dictatorship whose worldview gives little value to human life itself. Hamas itself boasts of how it loves death and these “values” are the norm amongst the Gazan people.
Gazans and their Hamas leaders started this war, they attacked Israel with rockets, mortars, bombings and terrorist infiltrations, they chose violence and Jihad and it is for this reason that they should pay. They voted for Hamas and they support it at rallies where tens of thousands line the streets to chant “death to Israel”. Their towns and cities should remain in ruins, their luxuries should be curtailed, and their villainy must be answered for. Four hours of power a day is enough for a dark aggressor, now defeated. This cost should be borne by them until the lay down their weapons, accept their defeat and choose a path of peace and non-aggression.
A misnomer often quoted by Israel’s foes was that the collateral losses on the Arab side were innocent, but they most decidedly were not. True, it could be said that they were non-belligerents but not “innocents”. Did they not vote for Hamas? Do we forget that Hamas sprouted from their own sons and fathers; is their Nazi-like ideology and death-cult not part and parcel of their society itself?
Of course civilians should not, and indeed were not, purposefully targeted. But, Israel bears no responsibility for the loss of non-combatants killed or injured. The enemy, the Hamas government, who started the war, who purposely hid its fighters and weapons amongst its civilians, to attract sympathy from a biased media, is to blame. As long as it remains in power it must not be allowed to benefit further and regain its strength.
It is up to the Israeli government to make this a reality by blocking any access to such funds and goods into the terrorist strip. It can shut the borders, and wait till Hamas itself collapses under the weight of popular anger at unpaid salaries and destruction that it has caused its people. Israel can weather the storm of international criticism and crocodile tears for the people of Gaza. It should confiscate all funds received and use them to directly compensate the Israelis whose lives and homes were destroyed.