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Logic does not count

Logic does not count

Middle East News Service

Ofer Shelah believes that the Israeli-Palestinian cycle of bloodletting will continue until someone takes a step to break the symmetry.

In the years after he lost office, former Prime Minster Ehud Barak contended that under him things were different. “When I left office,” Barak kept repeating, “the number of Palestinians killed since September 2000 was about 400. The number of Israelis killed was less than 40.”

This was, and still is, a strange and primitive computation, as if what counts in the confrontation with the Palestinians is the number of fatalities. At the time, only a few people accepted the notion that, on the contrary, the large number of Palestinian casualties was responsible for inflaming what started out as a popular uprising and turned it into a murderous terror war. That war ended up costing about a thousand Israeli lives and the notion above is accepted in far wider circles these days.

But the Israeli revenge mentality, which gauges our situation on the basis of the number of Arabs that we manage to kill each day, has not changed. A senior officer told me in a private conversation, that the IDF knows how to kill a hundred Hamas people on one day, but it knows that the killings will not change anything. Such an action may eventually result in the evacuation of Sderot. The officer went on to say that the Sderot scenario was possible even if Israeli action were to bring about some change. The officer did not believe that a new situation could be created in which Israeli townships would be outside the firing range.

The first part of his comments was confirmed yesterday. We do indeed know how to kill lots of Palestinians. It is reasonably safe to assume that he is also correct about the ineffectiveness of it all. But this officer, like his colleagues, knows that logic does not count. No one remembers that the current escalation started when Israel liquidated five Hamas people in one go and twelve on another day. It is not that we are [solely] responsible. There are two sides to this cycle of bloodletting, but both of them are equally susceptible to the desire for revenge and the lust for power, without consideration of the consequences.

The will be no “new situation in Gaza” as a result of the increased level of operation of the IDF. The flames will ebb and the flames will rise and repeat the process. There is no one who can break this cycle of bloodletting with an innovative step. As long as Hamas feels besieged, as long as it understands that Israel will not let up economically or militarily while it is in power, it will continue to shoot or let others do so. As long as Hamas is shooting, Israel will respond with an increasing volume of force, whether it makes sense or not.

The arrangement proposal that Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman would have brought over had his visit not been postponed, is not deemed feasible for it lends legitimacy to Hamas’ rule in Gaza. The residents of Sderot and Ashkelon thus provide the defensive shield for the government’s policy – this may be legitimate, but it needs to be put on the table.


Translated by Sol Salbe of the Middle East News Service, Melbourne, Australia.

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