Something close to 140 rockets have been fired into the western Negev from Gaza over the past two weeks. Only yesterday, another 10 rockets were fired into Israel. Color Red Alerts (the rocket warning system in place in the southern communities located in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip) have been heard in multiple communities, including those of Ashdod, Sderot, and Sha’ar HaNegev (also referred to as Otef Aza). Hamas and the Al-Quds Brigadeof the Palestinian Islamic Jihad have, respectively, taken credit for various rocket launching.
It all started when the IDF discovered a tunnel linked with the Gaza Strip which could be used to smuggle supplies, weapons, and people into and out of the Gaza Strip. Should it be used to allow terrorists out of Gaza, this would be of great danger to Israeli security. In response to the destruction of the tunnel, rockets have been fired into Israel, which has warranted Israeli air strikes against the rocket launchers. Minister of Defense Ehud Barak has said, “No country can accept the consistent shelling of its citizens from a foreign entity. Israel won’t accept this. When conditions are ripe and there is a necessity to do so, we will act.” Perhaps this has led to the most recent incursion into Gaza this morning, in which Palestinian militants fired mortars at IDF tanks which briefly entered the Strip.
Technically the cease-fire is still in effect, as it has not yet been called off by either side. In case that the questions were not lacking prior to the beginning of the ceasefire, they ought to be asked now. It is clear that the ceasefire is simply giving Hamas and the other militant groups time to rearm and regroup. This being said, what is the purpose of the ceasefire. While most Israelis would like to have peace with their neighbors, and this, in fact, is a part of Israel’s Grand Strategy towards all of its neighbors (in particular, Gaza, the West Bank, Syria, and Lebanon), Israelis, in general, are split as to what is a reasonable cost. The Ehud Baraks of the Israeli government would like Israel’s Grand Strategy towards Gaza to be one which brings quiet for the short term. It does not matter for them if, in 5, 10, or ever 20, years time, Hamas will be more powerful than it ever was and in even less of a position to accept Israel’s existence. Thus, they will be willing to make whatever concessions are necessary in order to maintain this ceasefire. This being said, the objective ought not be quiet, but rather containment.
A terrorist organization uses force against a civilian population with a political motive. Allowing such an organization to grow stronger will not yield peace, nor will it yield tranquility in the long term (or even the short term, as the renewed rocket barrage ought to show). Jabotinsky argued that the only way to have peace with those who want to push you into the sea is to prove to them, beyond any measure of doubt, that you are going nowhere, and that you will not be pushed into the sea. He, as did the Talmud, also, argued against meeting those halfway, who have no wish to even take a baby step in your direction. A ceasefire, or defacto recognition of Hamas’ right to use acts of terror against Israel’s civilian population cannot result in peace. Rather, it will probably result if far more death and destruction than would direct confrontation.