Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The road that should not be taken: an Israeli invasion of Gaza

Gaza Invasion Is Likely, Israeli Official Says
TEL AVIV — A senior Israeli military official said Wednesday the likelihood of a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip was “very high,” and that “if you want to efficiently fight terrorism you must be present, boots on the ground.” 
The official, who has been briefing Israeli ministers who make strategic decisions, said his assessment was based on “the signals I get” and the diminishing returns of aerial bombardment after nine days. He said an Israeli takeover of Gaza is “not a huge challenge,” estimating it would take “a matter of days or weeks,” but that preventing a more dangerous devolution in the coastal enclave would require an occupation “of many months.” 
“Every day that passes makes the possibility more evident,” the official told a handful of international journalists in a briefing at the military’s Tel Aviv headquarters. “We can hurt them very hard from the air but not get rid of them.” He spoke on the condition of anonymity under military protocol.
Over 200 Palestinians have now been killed in Gaza, including four boys who were just killed today as they were playing soccer on the beach. Over a thousands missiles and mortars have been fired into Israel, most of them into the communities closest to Gaza and southern cities like Beer Sheva, Ashdod, and Ashkelon. One Israeli was killed by a mortar and two died of heart attacks when they were rushing to shelter. The loss of life and the physical damage in Israel is far less than in Gaza, but life in southern Israel has been extremely disrupted by the barrages of rockets. People have to run to the shelter every time they hear the sirens - it must be very hard to get anything done, especially if you have to leave your home to go to work, shopping, to school, etc. 

The mere thought that there might be a ground invasion of Gaza, especially if it is then followed by an "occupation of many months," as the "senior Israeli military official" is quoted below, is unbearable. Probably hundreds if not thousands of Palestinians would be killed in such an invasion, and I would expect significant Israeli casualties as well. If life for Gazans is unbearable now, just imagine what it will be during and after the invasion. Even more buildings would be destroyed, more families would lose everything they have. And then what? If Israel takes over Gaza again, it once again becomes the occupying power, responsible for the lives of the Gazans. And of course, there would be constant attacks against the soldiers.

When people talk about reinvading and reoccupying Gaza, I always wonder how they have so quickly forgotten why Israel left Gaza. I remember the constant fear that Israeli soldiers would be killed - friends of mine at the time who had sons in the army were always afraid that they would be sent to Gaza.

The obvious choice is to negotiate with Hamas. Even if it doesn't result in a final agreement, achieving a modus vivendi that would improve the lives of the ordinary people of Gaza would be a good accomplishment.

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