There was a line in a NYT op-ed from today that I’ve actually been thinking all week, which is that everyone’s been arguing over whether the latest round of attacks are justified, but no one seems to be asking if it’s wise. I think the main thing it’s going to accomplish is to strengthen the hard-liners on both sides, which I don’t think is going to be helpful. The situation in the south before the assassination was bad, but not so different from the way things have been for the last 10 or 12 years, and you can argue that they had even improved some because of the new missile defense system. The sirens were still disruptive, but fewer missiles hit the ground in the past year or so than before. Also, they’ve tried this already, and it didn’t work. There were rockets before the last Gaza war, and the war didn’t fix it. There have been frequent bombings of launch sites after previous rocket attacks, and the rockets still came.
What did work was an power-sharing agreement with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, which is largely peaceful now, and even safe, except for the Arab areas where Israel is responsible for police work, because they don’t do a very good job. Unfortunately, the PA is extremely corrupt, not well liked by a lot of Palestinians, and now that it isn’t causing any trouble, the Israelis aren’t doing much to improve the situation there or move them toward more autonomy. Hamas is not inclined to make such an agreement with Israel, but there were indications that they were open to a long-term truce, but that’s now dead in the water. I guess what I’m saying is that the rockets shot at Israel were a serious problem, but not an existential one, and that this is a terrible way to handle it. It’s already causing a big mess, and I would be shocked if it fixed anything in the long run.
The region has also become even more unpredictable since the Arab Spring started, and, while it’s very likely that a ground invasion will stay contained to Gaza, it’s not completely certain, and not be joined by over-enthusiastic Syrians who are shooting people anyway, or Hezbollah will decide to bomb the north, too, which is more vulnerable, or if it will prompt Egypt to re-evaluate it’s peace agreement. In fact, an IDF jeep apparently just received some shots from Syria in the Golan, according to a local news web site.
In the end, if Egypt and/or Turkey manage to broker a cease-fire, whether it happens now or in a few months, they’re the ones that ‘win’ the conflict, since they can then claim to be the real brokers of power to deal with in this new Middle East. It will be interesting to see if Israel agrees to that (or even if they realize that that’s how they set up the pieces), or if they will keep fighting until Hamas can’t fight anymore and Israel feels like it’s done for now. At the moment, it looks like the latter, but right now, at least, it could improve with the same speed that it could worsen.
I’ll write more soon, if you like. I really need to sleep now.