Op-ed: Don’t March into Gaza
From the Los Angeles Times Op-Ed Section
Don’t march into Gaza
Only thorns and scorpions await Israel if it decides to invade that hostile territory.
By Amos Oz
February 15, 2008
Anger, frustration and invective are riling us. Israel must not fall into the trap that Hamas is setting for us — we must not march into Gaza. Because the number of casualties in a ground invasion of Gaza would be much greater than the number of casualties caused by Kassam rockets over the last seven years. Because during five of the seven Kassam years, we controlled the entire Gaza Strip and hundreds of rockets were fired on Sderot anyway, in addition to repeated bloody assaults on the Israeli settlers who lived there. Apparently, we’ve forgotten.
Reoccupying the Gaza Strip would not necessarily end rocket fire on Sderot and its environs. In addition to the continuing attacks on Sderot, our occupying force would face gunfire and suicide bombers, day in and day out.
Moreover, an invasion of Gaza would unite the Palestinian masses and the Arab and Muslim worlds around Hamas, which at present is isolated and loathed by most Arabs. If Israeli forces invaded Gaza, Hamas’ fighters would immediately be seen as defenders of a Palestinian Masada to the Palestinians, the Arab world and international public opinion — the few against many, residential neighborhoods facing an army, refugee camps under the shadow of bomber squadrons, boys battling tanks, David versus Goliath.
If we conquer Gaza, we’ll find ourselves sitting on thorns and scorpions. The occupying force will not have a day of peace. Neither will the inhabitants of Sderot and the area around it.
Even in such times of anger, when our hearts go out to the ongoing suffering of the Israelis of Sderot, we must not forget that the root of the Gaza problem is that hundreds of thousands of human beings are rotting there in refugee camps, camps that are incubators of poverty and despair, ignorance, religious and national fanaticism, hatred and violence.
From a historical point of view, there can be no solution to the problem of Gaza as long as there is not at least a modicum of hope for these desperate people somewhere on the horizon.
Then what can we do? We can and must achieve a cease-fire with Hamas in Gaza. A cease-fire would come, of course, with a high political price. But among all the prices Israel would have to pay for a mistaken and rash decision, it is the least deadly and the most bearable.
Amos Oz is an Israeli novelist and essayist. This commentary was translated by Haim Watzman.