The disengagement from Gaza made a few years ago was actually the moment Hamas started getting stronger below the nose of Israel until they have become the authority over there. Eventually, the extremist voices in Gaza won over the more rational ones such as the Fatah and that was certainly not on Israel’s plans. Many voices are heard nowadays in Israel mentioning the disengagement as a big mistake and that the only way to maintain a quiet zone would be to control them tightly as we did in the past.
I personally do not agree with this since it takes us to an “endless” road and I don’t believe that occupation as a way of life can last. There are people there that deserve the basic right of freedom and us, most of anyone else in the world should not take it from them. Anyway, it brings us to the dead end again where if we don’t control them there is (or at least was) a fertile ground for the extremist to take over. So, what could have we done differently or even do after the current war to prevent this from happening and help get out the extremist out of the picture without brutal intervention?
If we take a look at the rationale for why the people in Gaza selected and support Hamas then based on Hamas’s propaganda they are the fighters that will bring back the land of Israel to the Palestinians and them are doing the holy war (forgetting for a moment they have been hiding for the last two weeks and that they used the civilians as human shelter but anyway). I don’t buy this cause. I think this cause is something that smells like Tehran and if I assume normal people from Gaza are the same as you, I and everyone else, then it just does not sound logical. What I “buy” more is that the people over there are desperate mentally and financially for a long time now and Hamas has been helping them in the very basic stuff while preaching their extremist propaganda meanwhile. As a very hungry person, you don’t really care about what you need to vote once candidate brings you food. And this principle goes a long way towards fundamentalism and other areas extremists find benefit in.
If I am right on this then the logical step for us following the disengagement was actually to help the people in Gaza. To help them live better, work more, own more stuff and have “more” to lose in the face of a potential conflict. I think we tried for a while but with the first fist that punched us we said, well, they can manage it own their own and if they don’t need or want our help then we won’t give it to them. That was wrong! The fist aimed at us hurt only our pride and its sender, Hamas instructed by Tehran, aimed exactly at that. To make us leave them alone so they can stay in their miserable lives so Hamas can be their heroes and save them with small peanuts. That was our mistake! We should have kept on making their lives better, build factories, build hospitals, build universities and more so that Gaza people could get strong enough to say no to the extremists. Clear thinking is something possible only when basic needs are satisfied and you can not expect the hungry man to think in an enlightened way. To emphasize I do not suggest they would have started falling in love with us, no no, they have a long long history of hate with us and this does not go very fast. Still, they would have been given the option to select to either live in some kind of comfort and stay more moderate in their actions or go back to where they were in order to serve foreign interests of the extremists.
Just take a look at the west bank and although there are a lot of bad vibes still their better living standard makes them be more rationale and that is all we need. At least at the moment.
This logic also explains why Hamas is disturbing the humanitarian aid since it is easier to control poor and hungry people than the ones who eat and are full.
This approach requires a big leap of faith from us since at the mid and short term you are actually helping people who really hate you at the moment. But in the longer term that is the way to create a good relationship with people in general and especially neighbors.
This thinking takes me to a few days after the fighting will end and I think that we as a nation should do all in our ability to help them and adopt it as a national long-term strategy. It may take years until confidence can be regained but I expect that the “responsible” voices within their people will rise up much faster and become a counter force to the extremist. I personally do not see helping them as a point of weakness for Israel though some may perceive it as such for a while. It is actually a real vote for self-confidence and strength.
I do not think we have some kind of genetic difference not allowing us to become good neighbors. We are doing it quite well with the Israeli Arabs. It is not that it is all roses between us and the Israeli Arabs but at least there is some co-existence and civilized discussion among us. I think also that once Israeli Arabs will see that their brothers the Palestinians start to live better then our co-existence will improve.
A combined approach of educating the Gaza people on the real forces behind the scenes (Iran), helping them live better and recover fast from where they are now and presenting them a long term vision into the future can help us solve this never ending story and start a new better one.