A Real Solution in the Gaza Strip

Opinions abound regarding the conflict in Gaza.  Many armchair analysts demand a two-state solution while Iranian-made rockets rain down on Israeli civilians.  I am no stranger to Iranian rockets, having served at the U.S. Embassy Baghdad, where Shiite militias launched Iranian rockets on the Green Zone after Friday prayers.  One even landed behind my apartment.  If it had exploded, I would not be here today.

Few people recognize that the real issue is not Palestinians vs. Israel.  It is Muslims vs. Jews.  Muslims conquered present-day Israel and Gaza in the 600s, after which the territory has been considered by Muslims to be part of the Islamic “House of Peace,” where sharia rules the land.  When the Crusaders reclaimed the Holy Land for Christendom, their existence humiliated Muslims because it meant that the infidels took back what was considered Muslim land.  The Islamic world was determined to take back the Holy Land and remove the humiliation that infidel occupation represented, never mind that Christians had controlled that territory for hundreds of years before Islam ever existed.

History is now repeating itself, except that, instead of Crusaders, it’s Jewish infidels.  As hard as Israel has tried to make peace with its Islamic neighbors (with some success in Egypt and Jordan), Hamas found a way to undo all this progress by calling for jihad against Israel, the supposed infidel colonizers of Muslim land, even though Jews had ruled that land for millennia before Islam existed.

Hamas leader Ghazi Hamad stated, “Israel is a country that has no place on our land. ... We must remove it because it constitutes a security, military and political catastrophe to the Arab and Islamic nation. ... The Al-Aqsa Deluge [the October 7 onslaught] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth. ... We are called a nation of martyrs, and we are proud to sacrifice martyrs.”

If we are to believe the Hamas Charter’s call for Israel’s eradication and its leaders’ own words, Hamas represents an existential threat to Israel as long as it exists.  The only option for survival Israel has is to annihilate Hamas and its supporters.

If the Muslim nations of the world love the Palestinians and wish to rescue them from the depredations of Iran-funded Hamas, then why won’t they offer refugee status to their brothers and sisters in Gaza?  Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar all refused.  If the Palestinian cause is just and the suffering is so bad, then surely those with similar ethnic and religious ties should gladly receive at least some of those suffering under Hamas’ oppression.

While this logic may seem obvious to Western minds, it barely registers with the Muslim world.  Why?  Because Muslims don’t want to solve the problem; they want to eliminate Israel, even if arm-twisting by the West can establish “cold peace” treaties with Egypt and Jordan.  While Arab nations learned that wars against Israel tend to end badly, they would be glad to keep using Palestinians as a proxy for venting their hostility until Israel finally succumbs.  Those in America who chant: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” are occasionally Palestinians, but they are nearly all Muslims or their leftist allies, and they want the same thing as the Palestinians: Israel’s destruction.

If the Arab world refuses to accept substantial numbers of Gazan refugees, then, despite the pleas of Representative “Fire Alarm” Bowman and anti-Semite Rep. Tlaib, under no circumstances should the U.S. accept any Palestinian refugees.  While it may be true that not all Gazans are terrorists, the vast majority are rabidly anti-Semitic and do not recognize Israel’s right to exist. 

We must also stop U.S. taxpayer money from going to Gaza, and this includes rescinding the Biden administration’s ability to exempt itself from anti-terrorism laws.  Any aid to Gaza will be diverted to Hamas.

Decisions have consequences.  Gazans elected Hamas to represent them in 2007.  They knew what they voted for.  Given Hamas’s state of perpetual warfare ever since, Israel’s wisest move would be to take enough land from Gaza to enlarge its security buffer.  Doing so would

  • permanently improve Israel’s security and
  • recognize that, in Islamic culture, only strength is respected when it comes to “infidel” nations, which means that there must be negative consequences for Hamas’s actions.

Increasing Gaza’s buffer zone would serve the same purpose as holding on to the Golan Heights.  A larger buffer zone reduces the territory in which Hamas or its sympathizers can operate while increasing the distance between Hamas and Israeli citizens.

In this scenario, Arab nations, under the banner of Arab brotherhood, could help rebuild the remainder of Gaza.  The message to those in Gaza would be that Gazans must be willing to live peacefully with Israel.  Otherwise, each time the cycle of violence repeats, Gaza will become smaller and weaker as Israel increases the buffer zone until, willingly or not, Hamas sympathizers will no longer be a credible threat.

How small and weak will the territory of Gaza have to become before they are willing to accept Israel as a peaceful neighbor?  That’s a decision for the Gazans to make.

To those who claim Gaza is too small to be viable economically, one need only look at Singapore.  Singapore is not much bigger than Gaza, and in the 1960s, Singapore was a third-world fishing village.  Today it is a high-tech economic powerhouse.  Gaza too, with Arab investment, could develop its economy as well as its tourism industry.  Gaza has 25 miles of beautiful Mediterranean beachfront.  If Gazans focused on construction instead of destruction, it could become a thriving city-state along the lines of Singapore, Doha, Dubai, and Malta. 

The world should let Israel dismantle and destroy Hamas.  Humanitarian pauses and ceasefires only aid Hamas and allow future attacks and bloodshed.  The Biden administration must stop attempting to direct Israel’s war and let it defend itself.  How could any fair-minded person think Israel should give up power to a group that orchestrated the slaughter of more than a thousand civilians, including women and children?  Pauses or ceasefires deny Israel its right to victory after being attacked, destroying its dream of lasting peace.

Hugh Iwanicki is a former Foreign Service officer and expert on Middle Eastern and Asian affairs.  He is the author of Shock & Alarm: What It Was Really Like at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq.  Hugh brings attention to the plight of persecuted Christians throughout the world and can be reached at iwanickih@yahoo.com.

Image: scottgunn via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0.

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