In a few days, maybe a week or two, Operation Protective Edge will come to an end. Israel will declare victory, saying it dealt Hamas a crushing blow that will make it think twice before firing rockets at Israel again. Meanwhile, Hamas will declare that it stood tall against the military power called Israel and sent most of its citizens – including in the big city of Tel Aviv – into shelters and safe rooms. In Israel, praise will ring out once again for the Iron Dome system, and for the strength of the IDF.
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And thus quiet will be ensured for a few more months: Hamas will try to upgrade its rocket capabilities; the truce, like its predecessors, will focus on everyday matters – the conditions of the Gaza blockade and the entry of food, electricity and building materials, and perhaps the opening of the Rafah Crossing on the Egyptian side and improving conditions in various humanitarian areas, if at all.
For Israel, this kind of arrangement will give it plenty of room to maneuver: As long as Israel has its hand on the switch of Gaza, there’s nothing to worry about. As long as the focus is on the daily lives of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, everything is solvable. You let another truck in here, release some funds there, issue some more permits. Israel is the sovereign, the ruling power that determines how life will be for the inferior and primitive Palestinians.
When the next round of violence and rockets starts, a great cry of astonishment will arise in Israel. What’s this? Why is this happening? What do they have to complain about? It’s the Palestinians’ fault! They’re firing rockets and missiles, throwing rocks and blocking roads, inciting and rioting, Khaled Meshal wants all of Palestine and Mahmoud Abbas is no partner. And we, Israel, are defending ourselves, fighting the brutal terror that seeks only to hurt innocents. As always – we are strong and we will win – until the next round, and then we’ll win again.
No one thinks about the reality of the occupation anymore, it’s just taken for granted. A status quo that Palestinians should be able to get used to and live with. Why complain? Why fight? Why appeal to the world? Why does the Palestinian in Gaza identify with his brethren in the West Bank? They have water and electricity and food every day – why should they care if settlement construction in the West Bank goes on and on? After all, we’re providing them with a livelihood and giving them work permits. What are they griping for? And why should Israeli Arabs identify with the pain of their brethren in the West Bank and Gaza? The only way is to keep pounding them, because the Arabs – and the Palestinians especially – only understand force, and that’s how we’ll win. From one round to the next, from one lull to the next.
Why wrack our brains thinking about deep, fundamental questions? Who needs permanent borders? Who needs a peace agreement, and why is the Arab initiative vital?
Let Abbas and his naïve cohorts keep on dreaming about a state, and the Americans and Europeans will invest money and exempt us from bearing the cost of the occupation – as long as there’s a fence in the West Bank and Iron Dome in the south, and rockets being fired from Gaza. Don’t bother us with silly questions about the Palestinian people seeking self-definition and independence.