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Killing Hamas Leader Sinwar Is a Childish Fantasy

Nurit Canetti
Nurit Canetti
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Head of the political wing of the Palestinian Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar (2nd-R) is greeted upon his meeting to a gathering in Gaza City last month.
Head of the political wing of the Palestinian Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar (2nd-R) is greeted upon his meeting to a gathering in Gaza City last month.Credit: MAHMUD HAMS / AFP
Nurit Canetti
Nurit Canetti

The astonishing resilience demonstrated by the Ukrainian people in defending their homeland for 76 days and counter raises questions – dour ones, it must be said – regarding Israel. Judging by the hysteria spreading among the public, the media and even the Israel Defense Forces, we are liable to fall apart in the face of a challenge far smaller than the one the Ukrainians are dealing with today.

The terror wave of the past six weeks was deadly, but it was hardly unprecedented. Even though many people were outraged by the remark, one can understand what Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai meant when he said on May 1 “We got through the month of Ramadan relatively peacefully.”

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The lethal attacks were all the work of one or two individuals, not of a terror organization, to the chagrin of the inciters and those who wish us harm. Their goals were much bigger: to spark unrest first in Jerusalem and then in the West Bank and in the mixed, Arab-Jewish cities, igniting a sweeping, deadly intifada within Israel an “improvement” on the events during last year’s Operation Guardian of the Walls.

Panic has seized the public debate of the past two months has been characterized by panic. It began with “how can the children go to school?,” continued with press releases on behalf of “defense authorities” reminding us how badly Hamas bombed out in Guardian of the Walls and ended this week in an inane discussion about the cigarette that a Shin Bet security service agent gave to one of the Elad ax murderers after capturing him. Even if it was not logical and expected interrogation tactic, the cries of “no cigarette, yes a bullet to the head” prove that Israeli society is losing it. It’s time for somebody here to take a deep breath and relax.

The horrific attack in Elad was a very painful blow to Israel’s soft underbelly, an atrocity at the end of an uplifting Independence Day holiday. But what does that have to do with the calls by anyone who takes himself seriously to kill the Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar? This would only lead to a bloody conflict with Hamas in the Strip. If that’s what Israel’s political and military leaders thought must be done in order to end the terrorism, then we would have to deal with the results of the response from Hamas.

But while he is an arch-terrorist who deserves to die, the IDF is not recommending his assassination: almost certainly because it wouldn’t achieve the objective and might even make things worse. Israeli intelligence is familiar with Sinwar and may be monitoring him using various means, and his replacement with a different terrorist would impair its intelligence-gathering capabilities. This is only conjecture. What is certain, however, is that while Hamas encouraged from afar most of the recent attacks cheered the perpetrators afterward, it neither planned them nor did it dispatch the assailants.

Sinwar was behind previous operations against Israel. If so, why is it that now, when he is doing nothing more than fulminating in front of a microphone with his arms crossed, there are some who insist on giving him the “achievement”? It has become fashionable in Israel to call for his assassination. One former journalist who now peddles his wares on social networks even declared that “There is a consensus in the media for assassinating Sinwar, the question is whether [Prime Minister Naftali] Bennett will dare” to do it. This is an obvious and embarrassing expression of Israeli anxiety in the face of the wave of terror – the growls of a paper tiger.

The terror attacks up to now were characterized by an absence of affiliation with any organization. That includes the murders and maiming in Elad, even though it is not yet clear whether the perpetrators, under interrogation, tied their actions to Sinwar’s calls. The public, in its distress, is looking for someone to blame, and the desire for Sinwar’s assassination to be the response is the product of the childish fantasy that it will put an end to all evil. This has only a loose connection to reality.

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