To prevent the region’s deterioration into complete chaos, Israel must exercize force once every few years. These limited demonstrations of power do not achieve a decisive military victory or a breakthrough in the peace process.
Their entire purpose is to stabilize the violent relationship between Israelis and Arabs. Thus they create a temporary, strong-arm balance that subdues the conflict and ensures calm for a few years.
For better or worse, Operation Cast Lead created such a balance. It weakened Hamas and deterred it, at a terrible human cost. It strengthened the moderate Palestinians and enabled them to grow, at an intolerable moral cost.
Cast Lead granted Israel’s southern residents a rare time-out. Brutal as it was, the operation created an infrastructure of stability on which it was possible to build – layer by layer – a new, sober peace process.
A recent report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs draws a shocking picture of what is happening in Gaza. For example, 75 percent of its inhabitants, more than 1 million people, are suffering from nutritional deficiencies, 90 percent must live through power blackouts for four to eight hours every day, 40 percent of those who apply to leave for medical treatment are refused by Israel and 140,000 inhabitants are unemployed.
All these figures reflect a situation that has degenerated badly over the past year, and all of them stem from the siege in its third year. How many of us know this? How many of us does this touch at all, between the bar and the gym? And above all, where did we get the gall to decide the fate of another people?