Israel withdrew all its forces and civilians from Gaza more than two years ago. It created the first opportunity in Gaza’s history for self-governance. Never before, certainly not during Egyptian military rule till 1967, did local residents have their fate in their own hands. Those who predicted that governance would moderate the Hamas message were proven wrong. And those in capitals from Moscow to Riyadh who believed they could talk sense to Hamas had little to show for their efforts.
Israel faces an Iranian-financed franchise on its border. Since Israel left Gaza, literally thousands of rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli towns and villages have occurred. What is Israel to do? Ignore the attacks? Turn the other cheek? Some would have Israel negotiate with Hamas, but over what? If the other party does not recognize your right to exist, what is there to discuss? The timetable for your own destruction? Others propose a hudna, or temporary truce. But if the outcome is to allow Hamas to strengthen its terrorist infrastructure, much as Hizbullah did in southern Lebanon after Israel’s unilateral withdrawal in 2000, then Hamas, not Israel, benefits.
Hamas wants to use Gaza as a launching pad against Israel, while seeking protection from the international community. That gives new meaning to the word chutzpah. To protect the possibility of peace, the international community mustn’t let Hamas get away with it.