Imagine a spot of ground that is a favorite sitting place in the woods or the beach that someone has claimed for their own, and then one day finds someone else sitting there. The original claimant is smaller in size that the person who has “taken over” the spot and refuses to leave, so it is unlikely that the latter can be dislodged physically. But the claimant wants his spot back, so he annoys the interloper by throwing pebbles at him. The new “owner” of the spot ignores him, until one or two of the pebbles actually strikes him; in retaliation, he picks up a rock and beans his pesterer in the head, who decides to go away for awhile, hoping the interloper will go away. He finds his nemisis there the next day, so he starts throwing pebbles again, and the cycle of absurd conflict begins again.
This is what the Israeli/Hamas “conflict” on the Gaza-Israeli border has become. Israel has once more taken military action in the Gaza Strip, following killings of Israeli civilians by suspected Hamas militants on the West Bank, and continuing rocket attacks into Israel. In the past, Israel has conducted periodic military incursions in Gaza, for relatively short-term result. These operations have excited the “concern” of so-called human rights groups and foreign governments, although there is precious little recognition of what instigated them. There is a great deal of handwringing about civilian deaths in Gaza, but Hamas knows very well that civilians—including children—will die if it continued to launch its largely unprovoked attacks on Israeli, especially if rockets are launched or stored in mosques, hospitals and schools. For Hamas, civilian deaths are useful as propaganda tools; since when have terrorist groups shown anything but contempt for human life—even that of their own people?
Despite the fact that to most of the West Hamas is a terrorist organization whose sole apparent purpose is the destruction of Israel, arms and weapons continue to flow into Gaza virtually unimpeded, doubtless with the aid of militant compatriots in the Sinai Peninsula—which has become as lawless and unmanageable as the western border states of Pakistan are to that country—or smuggled in from the sea.
This all could be easily “worked out” in a peace deal of the Palestinians truly wanted one. One should never forget that back in 1948 it was the Palestinians who refused to recognize the partition of Palestine—which was the ancestral land of the Jews, and was never an independent state after the Romans added it as a semi-autonomous entity in 63 BC, and after 70 AD merely a “province” of one empire or another for the next 2,000 years. While it is true that militant Jews sought the entire region as their own, this would not have been acceptable internationally at the time, and that it was largely accomplished occurred because of Palestinian militant activity against the Israeli partition forced most to “voluntarily” evacuate to Lebanon and Jordan. Since then, the Palestinians and neighboring countries squandered numerous opportunities to achieve a lasting peace in the region.
As usual, any efforts at even a ceasefire are complicated by Hamas’ unrealistic demands—essentially a return to the “status quo” in which Hamas can merely replenish its stockpile of rockets and launch new attacks in its own good time. I am tired of Hamas’ spokespeople being given a sympathetic hearing by CNN and the like when we have seen this situation played out time and time again, with Hamas demonstrating no sign of interest in peace. I am tired of listening to their long-winded shouting about why they violate every “ceasefire” agreement, such as whenever Israel arrests Palestinian militants who have committed killings of Israelis. We have to remember that Hamas is not a legitimate political organization that other countries can deal with in normal diplomatic terms. It is a terrorist organization, and it has only one reason for being.
Egypt is currently offering a “serious” ceasefire proposal, that all sides cease military operations, and that talks be held together and separately with Israelis and Palestinians to discuss “confidence-building” measures to insure that an atmosphere of “trust” can be gained. Hamas representatives are calling it a “joke,” which only tells us that this organization has no statespersons who are worthy of the name. Hamas does not, and never did, want “peace” save for that on its own terms, which is clearly untenable to any rational thinking person.