The Solution: Release the Pressure Cooker
There is no better time than pre Yom Kippur to reflect on our omissions and commissions towards our suffering people. Heart breaking scenes from Sderot contrast with anarchical and sterile debates amongst the great and good on the TV screens. As the participants seem to cancel each other’s arguments, leaving us confused in thinking and tortured in spirit, a different angle and different solutions are called for.
1. Sharon, by confining Arafat to Ramallah effectively moved the centre of political gravity (and its corrupting pot of gold) from Gaza to the West Bank. Resisting the building of any bridge, flyover or tunnel between Gaza and the West Bank should be the follow up to this vital move. Any Palestinians’ sovereign physical link crossing Israel will only stoke conflict and hostility for the future and undermine any future peaceful coexistence. Uniting the two parts of Palestine in any form, directly or indirectly will result in cutting Israel in two in its most vulnerable belly and expose it to future pincer violence simultaneously applied from Hebron and Gaza. All movements between the two parts of Palestine have to be by passports and transit or term visas. In this way the population of Gaza will be orientated and will gravitate towards Egypt while those of the West Bank will be orientated towards Jordan. That will release the pressure on Gaza and lift the pressure off Israel. Jordan and Egypt will resist this move since the infiltration of Palestinians into these countries will eventually impact on their internal politics. For years Israel foolishly acted as border protective shields for both countries. It is time to wake up.
2. Nothing could have helped Israel more than the rise of Hamas as the ruling authority in Gaza. It is a gift to Israel from heaven. Hamas is unwittingly helping Israel to perpetuate what Sharon courageously started. It will be ill-advised to impede the natural outflow of surplus population via Egypt to the rest of the Arab world and beyond. The stupidity of guarding the Philadelphi line is astounding and the proposal to dig up a canal is simply beyond belief. Gaza is not Southern Lebanon. It lacks the hinterland to give it depth. Any substantial smuggling of weapons will make it easier for IDF (Israel Defence Force) to target them in the future. The problem is the pressure cooker situation Israel is helping to perpetuate in Gaza. It is not in its interest to isolate Gaza from Sinai nor is it in the interest of those Arabs who want to solve the problem of the Refugees..
3. But what about the Katushas and Sderot. The Philadelphi border line, opened or closed will make little difference. You only need primitive workshops and some fertilizers and chemicals to manufacture Katushas. Israel can not afford to wait 2/3 or more years for the anti satellites star war weapons to repel Katushas. For its present purpose Israel has all the technical necessary skills now. Its know how is sufficient to locate many launching pads in order to initiate retaliatory actions which when coupled with the present limited actions of the IDF might provide an easing of the acute situation in Sderot and may put a stop to it altogether. How?
4. Let us use a two-prong action at the same time. Let Israel substitute property for life in order to keep international public opinion on its side. The first is to announce that all launching locations, not only the launching pads, are legitimate targets to be destroyed even if those include substantial multi-storey houses. It announces the new policy by broadcasting and even dropping leaflets to the effect that such and such an address was used as a launching pad and produces the satellite picture to back that. And then to give a warning that within 48 hours that location will be destroyed from the air. And it advises the inhabitants of that place and for extra caution the near-by houses to evacuate. And then carry out the limited bombing. It is only then that Hamas will stop using the people of Gaza as human shields. It is then that the innocent in Gaza will stand together with Israel against Hamas.
5. At the Same time Israel declares that it accepts that Hamas is de-facto in charge of Gaza as indeed it claims. Therefore its leaders bear the responsibility for the rain of Katushas on Sderot. Israel holds its leaders responsible. Therefore it warns that it will target the villas and habitations of its leaders and in each case it gives enough warning to evacuate before it destroys them. The message will be driven literally HOME to those leaders. Assassinating them proved to be useless as they would be replaced by worse.
6. These two measures, besides the present limited operations by the IDF, will cost Israel little, save lives on all sides and will not provoke international outcry and legal complications. It saves the lives of soldiers if Israel invades and accusation of collective punishment if it stops electricity and water. Israel won wars by using common sense and extemporized solutions not by strictly following military manuals. Implementing the above proposals may prove to be the bitter medicine it needs to administer to its enemies now instead of prescribing sweet palliatives to its public. Let panic and red alerts be transferred from Sderot to Gaza
7th September 2007
Aharon Nathan set up and headed the civil administration of Gaza Strip in 1956