Sunday, August 14, 2005

And So It Begins....

As of 5 PM NY time (Midnight in Israel) it became illegal for an Israeli to live in Gaza. The Kissufim crossing was closed and no Israeli, even one who lives in Gaza, was allowed to enter. And right on schedule, the two most feared outcomes became reality: Palestinians fired mortars on Kfar Darom and Israeli teens attacked an army jeep.

Settler leaders are promoting non-violence in their response to the soldiers coming to evict them. Palestinians are deploying security forces to prevent Palestinians from rushing the settlements (which begs another question: Where have these security forces been the last few years? For a different post I guess).

What we have here are two groups with divergent, and yet similar, interests. The Palestinians want to spin this withdrawal as a sign of victory and as proof that violence was the only means to force Israel to "surrender." This logic was used subsequent to Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon (strategically a smart move, but carried out in the worst possible way) as a way to motivate the people to use violence against Israel. Of course, that violence failed. Arafat is dead. The Intifada brought them no tangible benefits, but left their society in economic, moral, and political ruins. Yes, Israel is leaving, but that's Israel's decision on its own terms and for its own reasons. Not because Palestinian mortars are crashing down on Kfar Darom.

But Israel cannot allow disengagement to become a rallying point, like Southern Lebanon. The Palestinians were able to use it because Israel literally scurried away in the middle of the night without even the most basic coordination with its allies. Israel looked scared and cowardly. Withdrawing under fire in Gaza will create the same image; and that's not something Israel can afford.

The PA must stop the shellings, at least until Israel leaves. If it cannot stop simple mortars from being fired, how can it be expected to run a country? The future does not look bright if I'm a Palestinian. But if the PA cannot or will not respond, Israel must use whatever methods are available at its disposal to stop the attacks, or at least it must make it clear that Israel is leaving in a position of strength, not weakness. Force cannot lead to a solution.

On the other hand, we have the extremist settlers.

There are some people who believe that attacking soldiers will make them think twice before coming into the settlements for the evacuation. At least, that's the only rational motive I can ascribe to these lunatics. For a while I supported withdrawing the soldiers and letting the remaining settlers fend for themselves. I still believe that, though not as strongly, but it's people like this (note the part about the rioters trying to attack Rabbi Aviner) who make me want the IDF to close off the border and let Hamas and the extremist settlers fight it out.

The IDF must make it clear that violence cannot work. Anyone attacking a soldier should be treated with force, deadly force if the circumstances require it. No soldier should risk his/her life because the fanatics need to "strut their stuff." Violence cannot be allowed to stop the disengagement. Force cannot lead to a solution.

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