by Tom Mountain
A direct line from 1929 Hebron to 2009 Sderot.
The war for Israel began a few decades after the Jews fled the pogroms of Czarist Russia for the Holy Land. That was in 1929, when Arab mobs murdered 67 Jews in Hebron and expelled the rest, thereby extinguishing the Jewish community that had lived there since Biblical times. Ironically, those Jews had little connection to the wave of immigrants that came from Russia and Eastern Europe in the preceding decades, whom the Arabs claimed were taking over "their land."
Those immigrants had transformed the barren landscape of Eretz Israel, building towns and kibbutzim where only desert lay before. As they built the country's infrastructure to support the multitudes to come, Arabs from neighboring lands east of the Jordan River began moving in as well.
While the Jews were content to share the land, the Arabs were not. Thus began their war to murder or expel the Jews. And Hebron was the first target. There would be many more to come. The Arabs were determined that Jewish blood would flow in the Holy Land until either the Jews were expelled or they got tired of fighting and left for parts unknown.
This, in sum, is the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict. To paraphrase a famous Jewish sage: all the rest is commentary.
And today there is a direct line from 1929 Hebron to 2009 Sderot or Ashkelon or Netivot or.... The problem remains the same. Only the generations have changed. And Jews are once again fighting and dying for their right to live in the Jewish state.
The current war for Israel is a continuation of the last war, the war before that, and the war before that. Arabs attack, Israel retaliates. Arabs are pushed back, Israel withdraws. Arabs regroup, Israel trains. Arabs attack again, Israel retaliates again. And on and on it goes.
Go back nearly forty years to the Gaza Strip and witness the same deadly scenario - Arab terrorists using their bases in Gaza to cross into Israel to murder as many Jews as possible, then hiding like chameleons among their population. The only difference now is that they've improvised. Knowing they can not infiltrate Israel as terrorists, they use rockets instead of bodies. And when Israel inevitably comes up with a solution to neutralize the rockets, the Arab terrorists will try something different and, for a while at least, they'll succeed.
As with any war, there are several ways to win. The first is a permanent solution - total victory. To do this, Israel would have to destroy the enemy's fighting capacity, capture or kill the enemy's leadership, pulverize their cities, and occupy their territory for an indefinite period. This is the World War II model, which the Allies utilized to great effect, but at great sacrifice. Think Berlin 1945. That's what Israel would have to do to Gaza, as Winston Churchill once said (of Germany), "to gain peace for fifty years."
This would require the total destruction of Hamas and the resulting deaths of tens of thousands of terrorists. Israel has the capacity to do this, but not the will, despite the fact that if the roles were reversed Hamas would gleefully kill millions of Jews in Israel.
The second solution, which has already begun, is limited in scope in that it falls short of a full-scale invasion, but effectively destroys the offensive capability of the Hamas terrorists. Israel has launched a large-scale assault on Gaza using thousands of troops, dozens of tanks, and numerous assault helicopters and fighter planes, carefully targeting the Hamas terrorist infrastructure. If all goes according to plan, the IDF will eliminate hundreds of terrorists; they'll destroy most of the terrorist munitions, as well as most of the rockets. With any luck, they'll also kill or capture the Hamas terrorist leadership, starting with Gaza "Prime Minister" Ismail Haniyeh.
To accomplish this Israel will need to reoccupy Gaza City and Khan Yunis for a few months to destroy most of the terrorist apparatus, after which the army would withdraw outside the urban areas and remain in control of the Gaza countryside, mostly in the eastern territory adjoining Israel's Negev. Israel would occupy about half of Gaza for at least a decade. It's not a palatable arrangement for Israel, but the alternative would be thousands of Hamas rockets bombing southern Israeli cities at will. Gaza terrorists would still attack, but this time against Israeli soldiers rather than civilians. And as soon as Israel cuts off their more lethal Iranian-made missiles, their remaining short-range rockets would fall within the military occupied area.
Arab terrorists will always be a problem, but the solution is the same as it's always been for Israel: fight them in their own territory or fight them in Israel.