Why Doesn't Israel Just Reconquer Gaza?

Why doesn't Israel just go in and conquer Gaza?  To those who support Israel, such a conquest might sound simple and tidy.  Go in and take out the Hamas leadership, and the problem will be solved.

Only it won't be solved.

Israel was in full control of Gaza from 1967 to 2005, and it was not a serene time.  By 2005, a constant stream of low-grade urban warfare was the norm.  Going back into Gaza would just fire up the original problem.

The "official" Israeli reason for the "withdrawal" from Gaza in 2005 was that Israel was willing to trade land for peace.  And, yes, that theme is still pushed by Israeli spokesmen and the media.  However, another unspoken reason was Israel's fear of demographics.  That reason is rarely stated, as it makes Israel's motives less benevolent than the Israelis would care to admit.  Israel didn't trade land for peace; rather, it was abandoning a lost cause.

If Israel goes back into Gaza — even if it takes out Hamas — it will still be faced with the old conditions, and it will have reconstituted the demographic crisis.  There are half a million more Gazans than there were in 2005.

Some aver that the Gazans would be happy to see Israel rid them of Hamas's tyranny.  However, the opposite may be true.  Some Gazans will no doubt see an Israeli takeover as beneficial, but many Gazan youths seem to have taken an even more radical viewpoint, which will inevitably lead to a renewal of urban guerrilla war.  Those who support Israel may not mind killing as many Gazans as necessary, but they will mind the cost in Jewish lives as the casualties build up.

As incomprehensible as it may seem to Westerners, there is more going on than a mere religious war.  It is also about land. Two-thirds of the Gazans can trace their lineage back to those who were driven out, or fled in 1948; and though one might not be sympathetic to their cause, much of the world is.

So what is Israel to do?

To put it bluntly, Israel would like the land, but not the people on it.  Since the Gazans are Muslims, this may be understandable, but it does not solve the problem.

An Israeli victory in Gaza would only reset the matter to the status quo ante, saddling Israel once again with 1.9 million Arabs who are hostile and will demand a right of return, or worse yet, a one-state solution.

This is what has prevented Israel from going back in to take over.Gaza.  It is not weakness on the part of any politician.  It is a realization that there are no happy remedies.

Israel maintains a rigid blockade.  And let's not tone it down; it is a blockade.  Egypt is responsible for the Rafah crossing, but the sea blockade is all Israeli-run.  The constant drone overflights are done by Israel.  So let's ditch another meme trotted out.  Israel did not "withdraw" from Gaza...except to the perimeters.  Maybe this rigid security is necessary.  I do not condemn Israel for the blockade, but it was not a full withdrawal.

Another meme says Gaza could have become a new Singapore.

Not exactly! Singapore is a truly free nation, with an independent navy, army, and air force — conditions that Israel would never concede to Gaza.  Singapore has roughly twice the land area, with free and open sea access, to become a shipping hub — again, something Israel could never allow.  And yes, Israel did allow an airport in Gaza — until they bombed it — but the customs were always under Israeli control.

Israel has overriding security requirements, which are insisted on, and those regulations would prevent Gaza ever succeeding along Singaporean or French Rivieran lines.  The bottom line is this: even if Gaza were to de-Islamicize, the control that Israel needs for its security would hobble and prevent any theoretical Gazan economic miracle.  Apart from total independence, Gaza could never have been a Singapore, not even in theory.  Moreover, the eastern Mediterranean is a dead end, not a central shipping lane on a busy maritime strait like Singapore.

Despite the optimistic demographic figures given by some right-wing Zionists — claiming that Jewish demographics will overtake the Arabs — the numbers are not promising.  Gaza's population growth is 2.3%  versus Israel's 1.51%.  Worse yet, the median age in Gaza is 17.2, while in Israel it is 29.9.  Gaza's population is heavily tilted toward the young, who will soon be racing into a baby boom.  Palestinian women also have their first children at earlier age.  Population numbers alone do not fully describe the continuing demographic crisis.

So what is the solution?

Well, re-conquest is not!

There are only two solutions.  Either Israel pays the Gazans to leave — and it will cost — or the last possibility is that America's Jews will finally make Aliyah en masse to overwhelm the Arab demographic.

After the Civil War, America was able to re-integrate the Confederate South, without too much damage to America's character (albeit racist legislation emerged).  After the Spainish Civil War, Spain remained Spain, even if the Basques and the Catalans were unhappy.

But if Israel integrates Gaza and Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), the Arabs will overwhelm the Jews, if not immediately, then in short time.  In this bizarre situation, Israel's actions are sui generis. Giving the Palestinians independence is not safe; neither is integrating them.

Israel's refusal to wage a victorious war in Gaza is not a result of cowardice, nor of concern for the Gazans.  It is a realpolitik decision.

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who wishes he had availed himself more fully of the opportunity to learn Spanish better in high school, lo those many decades ago.  He runs a website, Latin Arabia, about the Christian Arab community in South America.

Why doesn't Israel just go in and conquer Gaza?  To those who support Israel, such a conquest might sound simple and tidy.  Go in and take out the Hamas leadership, and the problem will be solved.

Only it won't be solved.

Israel was in full control of Gaza from 1967 to 2005, and it was not a serene time.  By 2005, a constant stream of low-grade urban warfare was the norm.  Going back into Gaza would just fire up the original problem.

The "official" Israeli reason for the "withdrawal" from Gaza in 2005 was that Israel was willing to trade land for peace.  And, yes, that theme is still pushed by Israeli spokesmen and the media.  However, another unspoken reason was Israel's fear of demographics.  That reason is rarely stated, as it makes Israel's motives less benevolent than the Israelis would care to admit.  Israel didn't trade land for peace; rather, it was abandoning a lost cause.

If Israel goes back into Gaza — even if it takes out Hamas — it will still be faced with the old conditions, and it will have reconstituted the demographic crisis.  There are half a million more Gazans than there were in 2005.

Some aver that the Gazans would be happy to see Israel rid them of Hamas's tyranny.  However, the opposite may be true.  Some Gazans will no doubt see an Israeli takeover as beneficial, but many Gazan youths seem to have taken an even more radical viewpoint, which will inevitably lead to a renewal of urban guerrilla war.  Those who support Israel may not mind killing as many Gazans as necessary, but they will mind the cost in Jewish lives as the casualties build up.

As incomprehensible as it may seem to Westerners, there is more going on than a mere religious war.  It is also about land. Two-thirds of the Gazans can trace their lineage back to those who were driven out, or fled in 1948; and though one might not be sympathetic to their cause, much of the world is.

So what is Israel to do?

To put it bluntly, Israel would like the land, but not the people on it.  Since the Gazans are Muslims, this may be understandable, but it does not solve the problem.

An Israeli victory in Gaza would only reset the matter to the status quo ante, saddling Israel once again with 1.9 million Arabs who are hostile and will demand a right of return, or worse yet, a one-state solution.

This is what has prevented Israel from going back in to take over.Gaza.  It is not weakness on the part of any politician.  It is a realization that there are no happy remedies.

Israel maintains a rigid blockade.  And let's not tone it down; it is a blockade.  Egypt is responsible for the Rafah crossing, but the sea blockade is all Israeli-run.  The constant drone overflights are done by Israel.  So let's ditch another meme trotted out.  Israel did not "withdraw" from Gaza...except to the perimeters.  Maybe this rigid security is necessary.  I do not condemn Israel for the blockade, but it was not a full withdrawal.

Another meme says Gaza could have become a new Singapore.

Not exactly! Singapore is a truly free nation, with an independent navy, army, and air force — conditions that Israel would never concede to Gaza.  Singapore has roughly twice the land area, with free and open sea access, to become a shipping hub — again, something Israel could never allow.  And yes, Israel did allow an airport in Gaza — until they bombed it — but the customs were always under Israeli control.

Israel has overriding security requirements, which are insisted on, and those regulations would prevent Gaza ever succeeding along Singaporean or French Rivieran lines.  The bottom line is this: even if Gaza were to de-Islamicize, the control that Israel needs for its security would hobble and prevent any theoretical Gazan economic miracle.  Apart from total independence, Gaza could never have been a Singapore, not even in theory.  Moreover, the eastern Mediterranean is a dead end, not a central shipping lane on a busy maritime strait like Singapore.

Despite the optimistic demographic figures given by some right-wing Zionists — claiming that Jewish demographics will overtake the Arabs — the numbers are not promising.  Gaza's population growth is 2.3%  versus Israel's 1.51%.  Worse yet, the median age in Gaza is 17.2, while in Israel it is 29.9.  Gaza's population is heavily tilted toward the young, who will soon be racing into a baby boom.  Palestinian women also have their first children at earlier age.  Population numbers alone do not fully describe the continuing demographic crisis.

So what is the solution?

Well, re-conquest is not!

There are only two solutions.  Either Israel pays the Gazans to leave — and it will cost — or the last possibility is that America's Jews will finally make Aliyah en masse to overwhelm the Arab demographic.

After the Civil War, America was able to re-integrate the Confederate South, without too much damage to America's character (albeit racist legislation emerged).  After the Spainish Civil War, Spain remained Spain, even if the Basques and the Catalans were unhappy.

But if Israel integrates Gaza and Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), the Arabs will overwhelm the Jews, if not immediately, then in short time.  In this bizarre situation, Israel's actions are sui generis. Giving the Palestinians independence is not safe; neither is integrating them.

Israel's refusal to wage a victorious war in Gaza is not a result of cowardice, nor of concern for the Gazans.  It is a realpolitik decision.

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who wishes he had availed himself more fully of the opportunity to learn Spanish better in high school, lo those many decades ago.  He runs a website, Latin Arabia, about the Christian Arab community in South America.