This week, they did something quite unforgivable.
They stole a war.
FOR SOME weeks now, our almost new Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz, has been announcing at every possible opportunity that a new war against the Gaza Strip is inevitable. Several commanders of the troops around the Strip have been repeating this dire forecast, as have their camp-followers, a.k.a. military commentators.
One of these comforted us. True, Hamas can now hit Tel Aviv with their rockets, but that will not be so terrible, because it will be a short war. Just three or four days. As one of the generals said, it will be much more "hard and painful" (for the Arabs) than Cast Lead I, so it will not last for three weeks, as that did. We shall all stay in our shelters -- those of us who have shelters, anyway -- for just a few days.
Why is the war inevitable? Because of the terrorism, stupid. Hamas is a terrorist organization, isn't it?
But along comes the supreme Hamas leader, Khaled Mash'al, and declares that Hamas has given up all violent action. From now on it will concentrate on non-violent mass demonstrations, in the spirit of the Arab Spring.
When Hamas forswears terrorism, there is no pretext for an attack on Gaza.
But is a pretext needed? Our army will not let itself be thwarted by the likes of Mash'al. When the army wants a war, it will have a war. This was proved in 1982, when Ariel Sharon attacked Lebanon, despite the fact that the Lebanese border had been absolutely quiet for 11 months. (After the war, the myth was born that it was preceded by daily shooting. Today, almost every Israeli can "remember" the shooting -- an astonishing example of the power of suggestion.
WHY DOES the Chief of Staff want to attack?
A cynic might say that every new Chief of Staff needs a war to call his own. But we are not cynics, are we?
Every few days, a solitary rocket is launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel. It rarely hits anything but an empty field. For months, now, no one has been hurt.
The usual sequence is like this: our air force carries out a "targeted liquidation" of Palestinian militants in the strip. The army claims invariably that these specific "terrorists" had intended to attack Israelis. How did the army know of their intentions? Well, our army is a master thought reader.
After the persons have been killed, their organization considers it its duty to avenge their blood by launching a rocket or a mortar shell, or even two or three. This "cannot be tolerated" by the army, and so it goes on.
After every such episode, the talk about a war starts again. As American politicians put it in their speeches at AIPAC conferences: "No country can tolerate its citizens being exposed to rockets!"
But of course, the reasons for Cast Lead II are more serious. Hamas is being accepted by the international community. Their Prime Minister, Isma'il Haniyeh, is now traveling around the Arab and Muslim world, after being shut in Gaza -- a kind of Strip-arrest -- for four years. Now he can cross into Egypt because the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas' parent organization, has become a major player there.
Even worse, Hamas is about to join the PLO and take part in the Palestinian government. High time to do something about it. Attack Gaza, for example. Compel Hamas to become extremist again.
NOT CONTENT with stealing our war, Mash'al is carrying out a series of more sinister actions.
By joining the PLO, he is committing Hamas to the Oslo agreements and all the other official deals between Israel and the PLO. He has announced that Hamas accepts a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. He has let it be known that Hamas would not contest the Palestinian presidency this year, so that the Fatah candidate -- whoever that may be -- would be elected practically unopposed and be able to negotiate with Israel.