The current warfare with Israel began because Hamas kept firing rockets into Israel and dug tunnels under the border to infiltrate Israel with night attacks. In response, Israel has flattened Gaza City that is controlled by Hamas. To date, the Palestinian death toll has topped 1,030 with only 45 Israeli soldiers killed in battle. Gaza City now looks like a junk pile. Over this past weekend, CBS journalist Charlie Rose ask Khaled Meshal, the leader of Hamas, if he would ever accept the existence of the state of Israel. His answer? No.
Before the current altercation began, matters were not good for Hamas. The suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt ended their hopes of ties with that country. Funds were lost and the borders closed. Residents of Gaza were bottled up. One would conclude a cease-fire would be a no brainer. Sorry. That’s not how Hamas thinks.
As I have reported in earlier blogs, the radical jihadist element views themselves in a holy war with Israel and the West. Religious wars are the most deadly of conflicts because the combatants believe God is on their side and they become blind to reason. In this case, hatred for the existence of Israel only fuels the fire. Khaled Meshal’s rejection of the state of Israel is a “to-the-death” response. Yasser Arafat had an agreement in sight, including receiving East Jerusalem as their capital and walked out because his only acceptable political solution was the annihilation of Israel. Political solutions are impossible in a climate of such hate.
This weekend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu charged Hamas with “double war crimes.” The first issues is firing rockets indiscriminately at Israel and the second is using and sacrificing Palestinians as human shields by placing rockets in schools, mosques, and residential neighborhoods.
To make matters worse, virtually all communication between Jews and Palestinians has ceased with mutual disdain and distrust existing on both sides. In past decades, normal communication existed, but today each side despises the other. And of course, Israel will not negotiate with a terrorist organization.
With the lopsided death toll, the pressure on Israel to cease fighting is increasing. Support from abroad is decreasing, but ironically, Netanyahu’s support within Israel has greatly risen. At recent poll showed more that 80% of Israelis applaud his efforts. A unified consensus in his cabinet supports cleaning out the Hamas military operation before they stop fighting. Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts have largely been rebuffed, again discrediting Kerry.
Israel will not disappear. It is a flourishing state with significant income from high tech developments, tourism, and agricultural. On the other hand, the Palestinian Authority depends on outside financing to stay afloat. Virtually no economic developments within the West Bank are making a difference in their situation.
Obviously, a political settlement is needed. Israel must stop building new settlements in territory claimed by the West Bank Palestinians. Attention must be giving to the economic plight of the citizens of Gaza who suffer greatly because of the blockade of their ports and exit routes. Hamas must accept the state of Israel as legitimate and stop initiating attacks. Israel has a right to demand attacks stop. Will they?
The war goes on and the future is grim for the inhabitants of Gaza.