What is Israel's endgame in Gaza?
A cynical man might think that there are authorities in Israel who don't even *want* peace. That maybe they start conflicts before election season and beat the drums of war all other times to keep themselves in power.
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.
This is an old story. As early as 1907, Yitzhak Epstein, a Zionist, wrote an article called “A Hidden Question” in which he observed: “We have forgotten one small matter: There is in our beloved land an entire nation, which has occupied it for hundreds of years and has never thought to leave it.” Zionism, Epstein warned, would have to face and solve “The Arab Question.”
The specific question for Israel in the run-up to this operation was what to do about rockets launched from Gaza at its citizens. No government can accept having its civilians subjected to regular rocket attacks from a neighboring territory.
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