Opinion

The Dead in 2014 Gaza War Died for Nothing

One of the most fervent arguments against a war now is that after it was over, we would find ourselves back where we started, just as we did after Protective Edge

File photo: smoke and fire from an Israeli strike rise over Gaza City, July 29, 2014.
Hatem Moussa/AP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t want a war in Gaza. It doesn’t suit him at this time, from a strategic standpoint. His preference is that Israeli forces be devoted to facing Iran. Many people at the moment owe their lives to his avoidance of war. They include Israeli soldiers, hundreds if not thousands of Gazans as well as Israeli civilians.

Update: Six killed, including Hama military commander, in Israeli raid of Gaza | Israeli army confirms one officer killed, another wounded during Gaza raid

The region, particularly Gaza, has been spared major destruction, and the Israeli economy has saved tens of billions of shekels. He’s done well by us, Netanyahu. As a result, he can be dubbed a man of peace, as Gideon Levy characterized him in a Haaretz column (Nov. 4). The question is whether the prime minister would have avoided war in Gaza if the Israeli army weren’t facing an Iranian front in the north and if he hadn’t felt that it was his duty as a leader to free the army up to deal with Syria. I would wager that it is only Iranian warmongering in Syria that has spared us an unnecessary and damaging war in Gaza.

Were it not for the Iranian threat, bodies would have already been piling up in Gaza under the rubble. Israel soldiers would have been dying, creating bereaved families. Frightened Israelis would have been running to bomb shelters and not all of them would have made it there safely.

The media would have been enlisted in a show of patriotic support via reports from the front and from the funerals. A lot of death, blood, suffering and destruction. And almost no one in Israel would have doubted the necessity of such a war. What’s more, the few who would have dared criticize the media – on social media or at thinly attended protests – would have been persecuted as traitors and a fifth column, sustaining verbal abuse, the threats of thugs and actual blows.

A war in Gaza at this time would have been considered necessary, as something that would have been taken for granted. The vast majority of the obsequious opposition would have welcomed and supported it. Children in Gaza would have died like flies and Israelis would have gathered around televisions saying that they deserved it. Better that they be killed when they’re small.

Let Israel’s citizens take note: The deaths in Operation Protective Edge, the war fought in 2014 between Israel and Hamas and its allies in Gaza – were no less futile than those that would have occurred if not for the Iranian specter. Operation Protective Edge was the mother of all wars of choice.

One of the most fervent arguments against a war now is that after it was over, we would find ourselves back where we started, just as we did after Protective Edge. Therefore the soldiers who died in Protective Edge died for nothing, without any strategic purpose and without contributing even slightly to safeguarding the existence of the State of Israel. And all of the Gazans who were killed died for nothing.

Let the pilots in the Israel Air Force take note: All of the Gazans who were killed in your aerial bombing raids in Protective Edge died for nothing. You killed human beings for no reason, no purpose, no justification. It’s a fact. It turns out that in similar prewar circumstances, war can be avoided if the desire is there – and Israel remains firmly intact.

True, life is hard for Israelis near the Gaza border. And life is also hard for the parents of Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin, whose body has been held in Gaza since Protective Edge. This causes empathy, but it’s no reason for war, for more death, blood and destruction.

That is the lesson to be drawn from Netanyahu’s avoidance of war at this time: Protective Edge and all of the other rounds of fighting in Gaza were foolish, unnecessary wars. How easily this tragic understanding is avoided here. And as a result, when the order is issued – and that day will come – thousands of Israelis will be called up without hesitation for another unnecessary military campaign.

When they are sent to their deaths, they will go. When they are dispatched to kill, they will kill. When they are told there is no alternative, they will believe it. And when they are told to vote, they will vote Netanyahu.