Israel's goal in last summer's Operation Protective Edge "certainly went far beyond just going after terrorists ... the idea was to deter Hamas by causing widespread devastation," Haaretz columnist and senior editor Bradley Burston asserted on Tuesday.
In a pre-recorded interview with Aimee Amiga released Monday, Burston went on to say that this strategy had backfired by strengthening Hamas.
"As much as people [in the Gaza Strip] will turn against Hamas as their immediate government, they hate Israel all the more for having actually dropped the bombs and let loose the artillery," he said.
To reverse this effect, Burston called on Israel to take a major role in the reconstruction of Gaza.
"Israel has to take responsibility for its part in the devastation of Gaza, which went far beyond what we've seen in the past," he said. Beyond that, he said, "It's in Israel's own interest to actively aid in the reconstruction because the message that it would send is: We care about those civilians, we didn't kill them on purpose, we want those people to have homes, we don't want those people to suffer, we don't like Hamas, but we have nothing against these people."
To this end, he called on the Netanyahu government to immediately enter UN-sanctioned talks with Palestinian representatives "who can speak for Hamas without being in Hamas." However, Burston lamented that "what Israel needs to do is the last thing that Israel wants to do."
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