I’ve been off and on again for most of the day in writing about this topic, and have already trashed one post, but I can’t get it out of my mind. The latest news stories concern Israel’s retaliatory strikes against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
By Nidal al-Mughrabi
GAZA (Reuters) - Israeli warplanes pounded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Saturday, killing at least 229 people in one of the bloodiest days for the Palestinians in 60 years of conflict with the Jewish state.
Hamas vowed revenge including suicide bomb attacks in the “cafes and streets” of Israel, as Israeli air strikes continued late into the night. Israel said the offensive would continue as long as necessary and that it may also involve land forces.
Israel said the strikes were in response to almost daily “intolerable” rocket and mortar fire by Gaza militants, which intensified after Hamas ended a six-month ceasefire a week ago.
The rockets caused few injuries, but Israeli leaders were under pressure to stop these attacks ahead of a February 10 election which opinion polls show the right-wing opposition Likud party may win. On Saturday, one Israeli man was killed by a rocket fired after the Israeli strikes began.
“There is a time for calm and a time for fighting, and now the time has come to fight,” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in a televised statement. He later ruled out any new truce with Hamas.
I addressed the topic of the Arab-Israeli conflict on Christmas Eve, but I also added this comment to Patterico’s original, as well as on Donald Douglas’ article about the situation. I asked, Just how does Israel win?
In 1948, in 1956, in 1967, in 1973 and in 1982, the Israelis thoroughly whipped the Arabs — and then agreed to cease fires which left the Arabs defeated in a battle, but never having actually lost a war, never having actually surrendered.
The Arabs were left alive, and strong enough to regroup and fight another day.
Further, seven years might as well be a generation as far as soldiers are concerned. The Arab soldiers who were beaten in 1948 were mostly replaced by 1956; the Arab soldiers Israel defeated in 1967 were, for the most part, not the defeated veterans of 1956.
The majority of the fighters are young men, too young to have been in real combat last time around, and while they’ve taken a few punches, they’ve never been beaten.
Let me be very clear here: Israel cannot be free and secure as long as the Palestinians are not physically removed from Gaza and the West Bank, and exiled to Jordan. Had Israel taken the hard path, and expelled the Palestinians following the 1967 war, thereby securing the land and shortening their defense perimeter, this could have been over a long time ago. Now there are so many Palestinians living there that expulsion is probably impossible.
Let me be blunt again: Germany and Japan were defeated because we killed a large part of their fighting aged men, seriously wounded many more, killed many of their civilians, wounded many more, destroyed their infrastructure and their industry, and thoroughly ground them and their cultures into the dirt. We did not leave anything that could soon be reconstituted into a fighting force, nor leave them the means to rebuild their military structures in a threatening way, nor give them the freedom to even contemplate such actions. Brutal as that is, that is how you win a war.