What can we do about Gaza? The peace process tales are all very fine, but realistically there could be no peace there. The most benevolent Jewish policies would make 99 percent of Gazans content with Israel; still, fifteen thousand discontent radicals can carry out suicide operations in Israel ad nauseum.

The near absence of terrorist infiltration from Judea suggests that Israeli police can rein in the guerrillas. Pervasive networks of police informants do the job. Checkpoints may help, but likely most interceptions there are due to tip-offs. Given the lax control of the passing Arab crowds at the checkpoints, bomb-carrying terrorists are mostly intercepted after the informants tip off Israeli police. Arresting the bombers during routine checks is a convenient way to exonerate the informers.

Delivering a suicide bomber into a central Israeli town is a relatively complicated operation. Suicide bombers rarely ride buses; they need transportation, often a hiding place. Suicide operations depend on complicated logistics. Suicide bombers are usually street folks, and they pound several doors before finding proper terrorists willing to recruit them. Intercepting suicide bombers is an extremely hard job, but it is doable.

Rocket and RPG attacks are much simpler than suicide bombing, and less detectable. They are truly “fire-and-forget” operations. Rockets are being made in the safe, approving environment of Islamic fighters where Israeli infiltration is moderate at best. Rockets are launched from friendly territory; logistics is very basic and therefore interception is exceedingly hard. Doable, yes, but not always.

Then, Arabs have many other options for terrorist war, such as stabbing Jews and killing us with handguns. Those modes are not very popular now because the more efficient modes are available. Should the IDF end the Qassam rocket fire, Arab guerrillas would switch to other types of attacks.

One option is to leave the Arab-settled territories alone administratively and economically, but retain a free hand there for police operations. That didn’t work for the British and it won’t work for Israel. Sharon, as the military governor of Gaza, managed to rein in the terrorists with an immense police buildup. He continuously had a huge police presence in Gaza. Such a presence requires full administrative control over the territory. The IDF now keeps the West Bank relatively quiet because the guerrillas find Gaza more convenient for their operations. Should order prevail in Gaza, the guerrillas can just as well step up their activity in the crowded slums and camps in the West Bank.

Hit-and-run or hit-and-retreat tactics never work for defenders. Israel cannot defend herself by occasional raids into the Arab territories.

Won’t the situation settle in perhaps a century or two? Israel can continue defending herself with limited raids in the Arab-populated territories, and wait for things to eventually calm down. Many states lived in hostility until they eventually settled. It is not certain, however, that any border disputes are settled forever. Alsace and Lorraine are the famous example of recurring dispute. Still less are the chances of settlement when the entire country is disputed, and the fifth column (of Israeli Arabs) maintains the dispute. Border issues have a chance of being settled when the cost of fighting them is unreasonable. Limited raids, on the other hand, limit the cost of fighting. The West Bank Arabs feel the IDF’s presence only at the checkpoints, and targeted raids leave the locals unaffected. Sending suicide bombers into Israel creates no inconvenience for the mainstream Arab population. The Israeli-Palestinian situation is most reminiscent of the Mexican gangs’ attacks on the United States, which only ended when the US annexed the lawless parts of Mexico.

It is important to realize that no peace process or economic development will end the Arab terrorist attacks on Israel. It is unrealistic to imagine several successive Palestinian governments conducting Ataturk-like propaganda to make a generation of Palestinian Arabs accept Jewish state on the land they consider theirs, and even Ataturk’s reforms eventually failed, as can be seen in the Islamization of modern Turkey. The returning Palestinian refugees are so heavily indoctrinated than no amount of contrary propaganda will make them forfeit their grievances against Jews. Unless Israel crushes any hope of return to the pre-1948 situation, Palestinians would hope to return to it.

What suffers a faster attrition: Palestinian hopes or Jewish patience? The passing of time diminishes Palestinian hopes of reclaiming their entire country, but it also wears down the patience of Jews who expect terrorist attacks daily. Arabs are in the much better position: hope can be sparked, while patience cannot. Any signs of Israeli weakness, whether military, ideological, or political, encourage the Arabs. And a democratic country has no shortage of political swings which encourage her enemies.
This analysis bears out historically. Thirty years ago, even the left-wing Jews rejected Palestinian statehood, but now many conservatives accept it. Polls indicate that support for the Palestinian state among the Jews increases after major terrorist acts. Palestinian Arabs, submissive in the 1970s, now overwhelmingly demand statehood—and have achieved it de facto.

Israel cannot bear the political attrition. Modern Jews, unlike the ancient Romans, don’t accept war as a permanent state of affairs. Rome fought our Carthaginian relatives for centuries, but Jews today are unwilling to fight for our core lands for decades.
A crushing military response is not an option. No elected Israeli government would bomb the real terrorist nests: the refugee camps. Sending Jewish soldiers there without artillery cover, as in Lebanon, to control the Arab civilian death toll at the price of Jewish corpses, is an option too immoral to advocate even indirectly. Egypt wisely abandoned Gaza to Israel; arm every person in Harlem with an automatic rifle, and you would still get a Switzerland there compared to Gaza.

Palestinian guerrillas need to take a single step to turn the tables: develop Qassam rockets with a reliable ten-mile range. They have already had successful launches of that type. Such a technological advance would allow them to launch rockets at Ashkelon from the Jabaliya refugee camps. Though Israel conducts routine raids into Jabaliya, she won’t be able politically to massively retaliate for continued attacks from the camp. Likewise, Israel cannot occupy Jabaliya because of the sniper fire. Cleansing the place of terrorists and leaving is also impossible because new terrorists are easily recruited from among the jobless Arabs.

Employing all the Arabs in Gaza is impossible. The place is overcrowded, lacks resources, and Arabs are anyway unsuitable for productive activities. Four generations have lived in Gaza on UNRWA handouts. The place is a hopeless slum that will not rebound.

It is possible that Gaza’s population will grow hostile to the guerrillas. Such an outcome, however, requires continuous Israeli retaliation against Gaza’s population centers and the hope of considerable improvement should they drive the guerrillas out. Neither proposition is true. Moreover, the guerrillas are deeply entrenched in Gaza. They buy loyalty with Iranian-funded charities and threaten the population into loyalty by exemplary punishments of non-compliant civilians. Though the popular mood in Gaza can change, no preconditions for it are observed.

The only way to end the Gaza problem is to end Gaza. Israel punishes Gazans by restricting emigration. On the contrary, let them go. The young Gazans won’t return home after attending universities in Egypt. Ban any Gazans from entering Israel, except possibly in transit to the West Bank; Jews need not give jobs to Gazans. Retaliate for the terrorist attacks against civil infrastructure, to prevent Gaza from developing any industries—which it is unlikely to develop, anyway—and to show the Gazans the sheer hopelessness of building anything. In thirty years, Gaza could be reduced to a network of dying villages. In a generation, Gaza would be empty.

And safe for Jews.

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