There Are Situations That Require the Use of Physical Force

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Palestinians gather around a vehicle that was destroyed by a Israeli missile strike in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday, July 16, 2014.Credit: AP

It’s sad to read about the suffering of Gaza residents, and naturally its sadder for me to read about residents of southern Israel, who have been wounded both presently in and for many years in the past. It’s frustrating to know that all of the IDF’s might is meant to achieve nothing more than another time out. It seems that the IDF’s third operation in Gaza in six years has done nothing but make us despondent and repulsed by the forlorn circle of life here.

But the primary reasons for that are the smart analysts that point out the absurdity of the operation, as well as its lack of sophistication and benefit. In any case, even though I believe that this operation won’t break us free of the cycle we’re stuck in, “Protective Edge” is a just and necessary operation, as is the willingness to speedily reach a cease-fire agreement. This operation is attempting to converge two truths. One is that Hamas cannot be destroyed, as it’s impossible to destroy an ideology, and therefore Israel is acting wisely by avoiding a massive ground operation, calling instead for a cease-fire, if the other side will commit to remaining quiet.

The second truth is that there are situations that require the use of force. Force has various meanings, and it is used nonviolently in both professional and interpersonal settings. Within international relations, and relations between states and terrorist groups, force is tied to physical, military violence. Given the fact that an army’s purpose is to cause destruction, the Israel Air Force is acting with great caution. Any state’s basic moral obligation is to guarantee safety for its citizens. When they fail to do so, states lose their moral value, and fall apart in the end.

Hamas is firing rockets at Israel, and it has already been proven that it stops only after it has absorbed some blows. Moreover, Hamas requires conflict from time to time in order to justify its existence. Therefore, even if Israel is dragged into the cycle of violence, it has no choice, because the conflict will not be solved, even if all of Hamas’ demands for a cease-fire are met. Not because of its ideology, but primarily because it does not stand on its own. Hamas is a subsidiary of complex interests, sometimes even contradictory ones, that affect its status among the people of Gaza, as well as in Iran, Egypt, and among the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafis and the Palestinian Authority. All of these elements influence Hamas’ struggle against Israel.

A day will come when the situation today will be viewed as a dark period. Judaism brought the world the messianic prophecy of the end of days, a time when the wolf would dwell with the lamb. But the Bible itself features stories of conflict, stories that express the nature of life. It’s important to try and bring about that messianic vision of peace, but history has proven that the way to make it happen is through the use of force. The Soviet Union did not collapse because America offered it an alternative to personal freedom; it succumbed to economic and diplomatic pressures. One of the primary reasons behind the peace between Israel and Egypt was the question of willingness to fight. The Yom Kippur War proved to Egypt that Israel cannot be defeated, and proved to Israel that the price of war is too high. Therefore, when the intellectuals wonder what purpose there is in going back to achieve a restricted, predetermined result, they are ignoring the simple answer: sometimes reality does not allow for anything but forceful conflict.

About this, David Ben Gurion said, “we would dismiss all of Jewish history, from the days of Yehoshua Bin Nun, and Moses, until the IDF, if we were to dismiss the value of physical force. Dismissing physical force is dismissing this world, dismissing life."

A Hamas man stands with an exhibition of Qassam rockets in Gaza.Credit: Natasha Mozgovaya

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