04 June 2018

Terry Glavin on Gaza - when your friends are worried about you

This post isn't easy for me to write. Not because I don't know what it should say, just because I don't have a solution to the problem raised by Terry Glavin in the article A moral dilemma on the Israel-Gaza border. It is much easier to respond to a relentless propaganda attack by your enemies than to a true concern about you, expressed by your true friend.

There are many good reasons why the so called "protests" on the Gazan/Israeli border result in so many deaths. There are many good reasons why a certain percentage of these deaths is of innocent people. We can argue the military necessities, the "collateral damage", the bloody reality of picking out the villains out of the huge crowd of extras etc. We could (and should) blame the chief instigators of the bloody show, who coldly calculated their PR benefits, while the bodies were still bleeding. And we will be absolutely factually and morally right at that.

However, as Terry says, it is rather beside the point now.
What Israel is now facing is a different and far more sinister security challenge. Hamas exists for the sole purpose of doing violence to Israel and to Israelis. By its various bloodcurdling pronouncements and exhortations, Hamas had made it clear that what it failed to accomplish with its rockets and tunnels, it is now prepared to attempt with the corpses of young, desperate and deluded young Gazans, piled in heaps along the Gaza security fence.
The problem with it, to come to the point, is as Terry defines it:
That is the predicament Israel is facing. If Hamas persists in luring Palestinians to martyrdom at the Gaza fence, the IDF’s rules of engagement – first shoot to warn, then shoot to wound, then shoot to kill – become morally untenable. An abomination.

It is not right, or fair, but this is the dilemma, and it is Israel’s dilemma to resolve.
To summarize for those who haven't yet caught on with what Terry is saying: you are a nation of many talents. Your technology is superb, you have succeeded in multiple endeavors, both military and civil, to find unique and original solutions. Your Iron Dome, your Arrow, your microprocessors, your electronics, your tanks, your guns etc etc. And yes, you are in the right in this stand-off. But you must find a way to deal with it without innocent lives being lost. Without any lives being lost, in fact.

And now we are facing a dilemma, folks. It might seem a lose/lose situation. If we don't shoot - they march into our villages and towns - and not to bring flowers, of course.
Before clashes turned violent on Monday, Hamas posted on social media to encourage protesters to storm the Israeli border, claiming that after the border was successful penetrated, Palestinian leaders would speak to protesters in Israeli towns.“Ismail Haniyeh will speak in Nahal Oz, Khalil al-Hayya in Kfar Aza and Nafed Azzam in Be’eri,” Israel’s Hadashot TV news quoted from Palestinian social media. “After the victory speeches, celebrations will begin throughout Palestine.”
And when we shoot, pushed into shooting by the dire necessity - we lose again, because we are effectively doing Hamas' bidding: provide bloody corpses to the cameras.

And some people correctly say that Hamas will always win the PR war, even as Israel wins the military victories. No, dear Ms Kay, I don't think that in the article quoted above Terry takes us to task. He is a friend who is worried, and for a good reason, about the same thing that worries you, even if we judge your article by its headline only.

So, this is a situation where straightforward thinking doesn't seem to be of much use. And, while both friends and enemies ask the same question: why doesn't such a technological juggernaut have a solution that will keep the "protesters" away from the border fence, I know that we just don't have one. No one has, not that it makes me feel better...

So the order of the day should be to find one, and this is the bothersome issue: I am not sure there is a solution to be found at all.

And this is only half of the problem. The other one, as Terry formulates in his next article, Even rational folks lose their minds when Israel comes up. Hamas counts on it:
It is not an easy thing, getting to the truth of all this, and coming to some rational judgments about the apportionment of blame for the horrible predicament Gazans are obliged to endure: a crushing hopelessness, a quarter of their meagre personal incomes spent on drinkable water, an unemployment rate approaching 50 per cent, the tyranny of Hamas, and no escape.
Of course, the suffering, the neglect, the unemployment are not exactly harmful to Hamas, after all their answer to all this is to point the finger at the Zionist enemy. And to use the suffering for more PR.

It is not that we are blind to the need for a solution. Our media lately is quite full of the articles like these:

Offer Gaza a Marshall Plan in Exchange for Demilitarization

Needed: A different Gaza strategy

Editor's Notes: Changing the Gaza Paradigm

There is a way to solve the Gaza crisis

Essentially they all pursue the same target: improving the quality of life of Gazans in order to pacify the Strip. None, however, provide an answer to the crucial question: how to improve the life of Gazans without handing Hamas another PR victory and strengthen their hold on the hapless population? Another lose/lose situation, another conundrum. I doubt there is a straightforward solution, but we definitely do have to think about an unorthodox one that will do the former without causing the latter.

The alternative to the solution is stark and unwanted: re-occupying the Gaza Strip, getting rid of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other ingredients of the terrorist alphabet soup and taking the responsibility of managing the life of Gazans for undefined, but definitely long period. Not a single sane voice was heard so far in support of this venue (thank deity for small favors).

And, back to Terry Glavin: to stress the point of friendship, a quote from the second article linked above:
I’d said that surely there must be a way the protesters could be stopped without shooting live ammunition at them – that Israel, with its incredible technological capabilities, must be capable of developing a way. That was a cry of anguish, but it was not an argument.
And even if it were an argument: I hope we all are still able to distinguish between a friendly concern and a blame assignment. No worries, Terry.