Gaza’s Future: It’s Up to the International Community » ADL Blogs
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August 1, 2014 0

Gaza’s Future: It’s Up to the International Community

by Abra­ham H. Fox­man
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared in The Jerusalem Post

The “bar­baric vio­la­tion of the cease-fire agree­ment,” in the words of the White House spokesman, by Hamas when they attacked Israeli sol­diers, killing two and tak­ing one hostage, sums up the chal­lenge fac­ing Israel and the West in this vital conflict.

An orga­ni­za­tion that launches rock­ets at civil­ians, uses its own civil­ians as human shields, that has in its char­ter repeated calls for the destruc­tion of the Jew­ish state is, not sur­pris­ingly, an orga­ni­za­tion to whom an agree­ment on a cease­fire is just another tac­ti­cal oppor­tu­nity in its ongo­ing war and is there merely to be vio­lated to achieve their evil ends.

This bla­tant action high­lights the need for stronger solu­tions to the prob­lem of Hamas in Gaza. Make no mis­take about it. If this con­flict ends leav­ing Hamas stand­ing with­out a clear path toward pre­vent­ing its rear­ma­ment in the years ahead, the vio­lence to come will make what we have seen so far look pale in comparison.

Some would argue that what Israel has to do is expand its oper­a­tion to destroy the Hamas infra­struc­ture and lead­er­ship so that it is no longer a threat and can no longer dom­i­nate Gaza. Such a deci­sion lies, of course, with the Israeli gov­ern­ment, but clearly there has been a hes­i­ta­tion to go in that direc­tion because of the poten­tial for sig­nif­i­cant IDF casu­al­ties, the inevitable dra­matic rise of Pales­tin­ian civil­ian casu­al­ties, and the impact on it would have on inter­na­tional, and specif­i­cally U.S. opin­ion toward Israel.

Short of such an expan­sion of the war, the goals need to focus on two things: pre­vent­ing Hamas from rearm­ing after this con­flict and the need for a Secu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion estab­lish­ing a super­vi­sory mech­a­nism and force to imple­ment the ban­ning of new weapons to Hamas.

The his­tory of such efforts is not good, as for exam­ple, the U.N. res­o­lu­tion about Lebanon after the 2006 war which banned weapons going to Hezbol­lah. It is believed that Hezbol­lah now has as many as 60,000 rock­ets, not to men­tion other advanced weaponry.

A com­mit­ment to pre­vent the rearm­ing of Hamas, how­ever, can be far more suc­cess­ful. In the case of Hezbol­lah, Iran was the main sup­plier of weapons and Syria the main conduit.

In the case of Hamas, all of its neigh­bors under­stand that Hamas is not only a threat to peace and sta­bil­ity but it rep­re­sents the larger threat of Islamic extrem­ism that is a dan­ger to mod­er­ate forces through­out the region. There­fore, Egypt, Jor­dan, Saudi Ara­bia, and the Pales­tin­ian Author­ity all would have an inter­est in ensur­ing that a Secu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion of this sort would work and that a super­vi­sory body would have enough author­ity and means to make sure that it does work.

And here is the cru­cially impor­tant upside: only through such an agency could con­di­tions be ripe to improve the qual­ity of life for the res­i­dents of Gaza and for the Pales­tin­ian Author­ity to return to gov­ern­ing Gaza.

One of the dis­may­ing aspects of this con­flict is the lament about civil­ian casu­al­ties in Gaza with­out suf­fi­cient recog­ni­tion of why they have occurred and what has to take place to pre­vent them from recurring.

The com­bustible com­bi­na­tion of an extrem­ist orga­ni­za­tion hav­ing access to rock­ets, mor­tars, machines and mate­r­ial to dig and build tun­nels for mas­sive acts of ter­ror, made this war inevitable.  Future wars are like­wise inevitable unless a new dynamic is created.

The Israel Defense Forces will do their part. It is now time for the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity, led by the U.S., to do its part. The viciously cal­cu­lated vio­la­tion by Hamas of the 72-hour cease­fire agree­ment must serve as a reminder: with­out an over­see­ing body man­dated to pre­vent Hamas from rearm­ing, we will find our­selves in a worse sit­u­a­tion down the road.

The time to act is now.