Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Perspective

Israel's dilemma in Gaza

WASHINGTON

Since the cease-fire in Gaza, thousands of Palestinians have returned to their homes and have been interviewed about their reflections on the war.

Combined with previous surveys, the interviews suggest a dilemma for Israel. From the standpoint of deterrence, Israel has every reason to maintain its blockade of Gaza. But if it does, Palestinians' anger at militants over the war might be erased by their anger at Israel over the blockade.

It's useful to look at two scientific assessments of public opinion in Gaza prior to the war. The most recent is a mid-June poll commissioned by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. It found that 70 percent of Gazans thought Hamas "should maintain a cease-fire with Israel." Eighty-eight percent said the Palestinian Authority should "send officials and security officers to Gaza to take over the administration there." Fifty-seven percent said Hamas should accept a Palestinian government that recognizes Israel and renounces violence.

The second assessment, based on data from the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, found that support for Hamas, which had declined from 45 percent to 24 percent after its takeover of Gaza in 2006, increased to 40 percent after Israel blockaded the territory in 2007. "If anything, Hamas appears to be stronger and have a broader base of support in Gaza than before the blockade," two analysts concluded from the data. That's because Hamas' popularity "derives from Palestinian anger at Israeli policies."

Now let's look at the patterns in the interviews of the past few days.

1. Israel's assault has driven some people into the arms of Hamas. When your relatives are killed or your home is destroyed, the simplest conclusion is that whoever did it is bad, and you're for whoever's fighting them. One man points to his leveled house and asks, "Does Hamas have fighter jets? Can its rockets do this to a home?" A mother who lost her 11-year-old son laments, "I never supported Hamas a day in my life. My family had problems with them. They killed my nephew. But after what happened, I support them."

2. Israel's assault has hardened some young people to violence. A woman in Rafah tells the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, "You have raised here a generation full of anger and hate. Do you think this generation will be afraid after this war? After a missile chased them in the street? This is a generation that doesn't know what fear is."

3. Gazans see the war as a loss. Hamas calls it a victory, but many Gaza civilians say the opposite. "The Israelis have hit us really hard this time. They destroyed us," says one man. Many residents, surveying the death and damage, call this the most devastating of Gaza's recent wars. Some ridicule the rhetoric of militants. "We have defeated the occupation, thanks be to God," jokes a young man in Rafah.

4. Some people blame Hamas. One man whose house was leveled fumes, "This is what we got, from Hamas and the Israelis alike. Your house will be destroyed against your will, against your will you will die."

5. Also, anger at Hamas might be broader than is apparent. Few Gazans openly criticize the militants. But there's a curious undertone in some of the interviews. "I don't want to mention names of countries or movements, but each one of them is responsible," says one man. Another man says leaders of the resistance are good, but his wife quietly adds, "maybe."

6. Gazans will judge the war based on postwar concessions. As things stand, they see the war as a loss. But that calculation assumes the continuation of the blockade. "All the industries are dying, and there are no jobs for the young," laments a Gaza City man. "It's a kind of suffocation." If Hamas does manage to extract relief, its supporters will feel vindicated.

Taken together, these themes create an unfortunate set of incentives. If Israel relaxes its grip on Gaza's borders and gives the people of Gaza a sense that the war paid off, they'll be more likely to credit and support Hamas. From the standpoint of deterrence — the principle that has always driven Israel's thinking — that's a disaster. So Israel has every reason to concede nothing. Let Gazans absorb the pain. Maybe they'll turn on Hamas.

The best argument against this response, with respect to Israel's strategic interests, is that the cost of granting concessions is less than the cost of not granting them. Yes, if Gaza's borders are opened, its people will celebrate. Yes, they might applaud Hamas, and they might conclude that belligerence works. But if the borders aren't opened, the people might radicalize and explode.

© 2014 Slate

Comments
Perspective: The Heartland to Headwaters Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition finds frustration and fear seeking a safe path for wildlife across Interstate 4

Perspective: The Heartland to Headwaters Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition finds frustration and fear seeking a safe path for wildlife across Interstate 4

The original Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition in 2012 was inspired by how the Florida black bear roamed ó and the space it needed to do so successfully. In 2010, expedition team member Joe Guthrie conducted research through the University of Kent...
Published: 04/22/18
Book review: James Comey wants to explain himself

Book review: James Comey wants to explain himself

In 2016, as the director of the FBI, James Comey publicly dissected Hillary Clintonís email server controversy. Later, we learned that Comey was keeping to himself the beginnings of an investigation into Russiaís active interference in the U.S. elect...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Column: Why the Starbucks racial bias training is more than just good PR

Column: Why the Starbucks racial bias training is more than just good PR

Starbucks isnít really in the coffee business. Weíve known that for over a decade. McDonaldís coffee is better and cheaper than Starbucks, but that hasnít done any harm to the coffee shopís bottom line. Thatís because what people are paying for when ...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18

"ISNíT EVEN A 1,"is how Michael Cohen, President Donald Trumpís personal lawyer and close friend, would rate on a scale of 1 to 100, where 100 is fully protecting the president. Thatís how one of Trumpís longtime legal advisers, Jay Goldberg, says he...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Perspective: The Heartland to Headwaters Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition will hope to find a path across Interstate 4 for wildlife

Perspective: The Heartland to Headwaters Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition will hope to find a path across Interstate 4 for wildlife

n two expeditions, three friends and trailblazing conservationists have already trekked more than 2,000 miles through wildlands crisscrossing the state to prove the viability of a Florida Wildlife Corridor, a network of the best remaining connected w...
Published: 04/13/18
Updated: 04/14/18
A Little Perspective: Interesting news and notes from around the world

A Little Perspective: Interesting news and notes from around the world

THE QUIZ: Four cards are laid in front of you, each of which has a letter on one side and a number on the other. The sides that you see read E, 2, 5 and F. Your task is to turn over only those cards that could decisively prove the truth or falsity of...
Published: 04/12/18
Updated: 04/20/18
PolitiFact: A closer look at attorney-client privilege after raid of Donald Trumpís lawyer

PolitiFact: A closer look at attorney-client privilege after raid of Donald Trumpís lawyer

President Donald Trump lashed out after the FBI seized business records, emails and tax documents belonging to his personal attorney Michael Cohen.Law enforcement executed warrants on Cohenís Manhattan office, home and hotel room as part of an invest...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18
Smith: Adam Putnam knows Florida, but that might not be enough today to become governor

Smith: Adam Putnam knows Florida, but that might not be enough today to become governor

Here is a little secret among reporters who regularly interact with Gov. Rick Scott:Reporters know it rarely matters if they happen to miss one of the governorís periodic and brief question and answer sessions. He almost never says anything.How shou...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18
Crystals may have helped Vikings sail to Greenland

Crystals may have helped Vikings sail to Greenland

When the Vikings left the familiar fjords of Norway for icy, uncharted territories, they were at the mercy of weather. They had no magnetic compasses and no way to ward off stretches of heavy clouds or fog that made it difficult to navigate by sun. H...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18

Perspective: A simple two-step plan to solve Floridaís opioid crisis

Even as Floridaís opioid crisis devastates families around the state, there are real, viable solutions that could curb this epidemic, substantially reduce the cascading number of deaths and provide necessary and appropriate treatment for those addict...
Updated one month ago