Gaza Without End
Gaza Without End
By ROGER COHEN
Published: November 19, 2012
HOW does it end in Gaza?
This has been the issue with all the self-defeating Israeli military offensives of the past 16 years — Operation Grapes of Wrath in Lebanon, Operation Cast Lead in Gaza and now Operation Pillar of Defense, all of them, not coincidentally, initiated on the eve of national elections in Israel.
Gilad Sharon, the son of Ariel Sharon who orchestrated Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, has an idea for an ending. He expressed it this way in The Jerusalem Post:
‘We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima — the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too. There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. Then they’d really call for a cease-fire.’
Atomic bombs, blackness, stillness, nothingness — Sharon allows himself to indulge the old Israeli dream that the Palestinian people should just disappear. But of course they do not. They regroup. They find new leaders. They endure with hatred of Israel reignited by loss.
The question for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was what to do: Escalate or pursue the cease-fire negotiations then being conducted on an unofficial basis through Egyptian good offices with Ahmed al-Jabari, the head of the military wing of Hamas and the man responsible both for the abduction of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and his release a year ago. The aim of the cease-fire talks, in the words of the independent Israeli negotiator Gershon Baskin, ‘was to move beyond the patterns of the past.’
Is all this good for Israel? No. Unless good is defined as policies that radicalize the situation, erode middle ground, demonstrate the impossibility of agreement, and so facilitate continued Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the expansion of settlements there and the steady eclipse of the idea of a two-state peace. This may well be Netanyahu’s criteria for a tactical victory from Operation Pillar of Defense (along with victory for Likud on Jan. 22.)