As Protective Edge Winds Down

Once again I am amazed at the ease with which individuals can destroy the lives of millions of people here in Israel. Three Hamas operatives in Hebron killed three Israelis and in doing so ignited a war which took the lives of an estimated 1,650 Palestinians another 66 Israelis. Rocket fire stretching from the communities around Gaza as far North as Haifa have sent Israelis running for the bomb shelters for 27 days.

The shooting hasn’t yet stopped, in fact I had to stop writing this as the sirens sounded.

I find it nothing short of tragic that individuals don’t have anywhere near the same amount of power when it comes to making Israel a more positive place. Here it seems, it’s far easier to destroy than it is to build. Both in the form of tangibles and intangibles. Life, hope, trust and common ground can all be burned in an instant but take years to build.

With Protective Edge winding down, arguing for a two state solution is incredibly difficult. Gaza has quite simply the embodiment of all our fears. The likelihood of this happening to a Palestine in the West Bank is enough to ensure that the status quo will continue. The management of this war has probably gained Netanyahu another term in office. There will be no peace negotiations any time soon. When there are they will not be because Israelis are demanding them.

During the 27 days of Operation Protective Edge I have heard a great many pundits and experts talk about the fact that operations like this don’t hold any answers. The answers come from negotiations and a final deal that both sides can live with. What irritates me is that is where the conversations end. Personally I think it’s where the conversations must begin. It’s not good enough to say we need peace, it’s not good enough to tell everyone that there has to be negotiations. Everyone knows this already. It’s figuring out a way to make those negotiations take place and to ensure that the terms agreed are actually adhered to that’s the real trick. When it comes to this, no one has any answers, making the entire conversation somewhat irrelevant.

The coverage of the fighting has been…interesting. Particularly enlightening was the New York Times admission that they simply didn’t have any images of Hamas fighters. There have been a steady stream of reports from journalists leaving the Gaza Strip about the restrictions to reporting placed upon them by Hamas. Some of the braver journalists have reported some stories about Hamas rocket attacks. Of course you have to be looking for those stories in order to find them. They are largely published in Jewish news outlets around the world.

Unsurprisingly no media outlet with personnel on the ground in Gaza is endangering their staff by printing anything negative about Hamas. Make of that what you will. Tablet did a great job of ripping into the Times about their images.

Many of the criticisms of Israel concern the number of civilians killed in Gaza by Israeli forces. I think it’s worth remembering that thus far all the figures have come from Hamas. Even so I think it’s safe to say that a large number of civilians have been killed by the IDF. This is inevitable when fighting in built up areas such as those that exist in Gaza. Israeli casualties are remarkably light considering these same conditions. I think it points to an impressive performance by this so called ‘Facebook generation’. We will gain some more accurate numbers of dead Hamas fighters probably in the next few days. The IDF has reportedly said they have killed hundreds.

What the criticisms of the IDF have really brought home to me is the fact that wars are about objectives not body counts. All talk of symmetry or proportion pale into insignificance next to actually achieving the objectives of destroying tunnels and missile stockpiles. The reason the IDF was so effective is becaude Israel had achievable objectives. Gazans died because Hamas did not. Those who insist that the IDF should halt its operations because of the number of dead have no answers as to how to fulfil the objectives to keeping Israel safe. As said above it’s not intelligent to argue that Israel needs peace in order to be secure. It’s intelligent to come up with a way that allows Israel to get to that peace. Arguing that the IDF should stop the operation because people are dying ensures only that more people will die in the future.

In the absence of a path towards achieving our strategic objective of peace with our neighbours achieving our tactical objectives is the only path that remains. Everything else is just bullshit.