Ethan Bronner, the Jerusalem bureau chief of the New York Times, is an old friend. But, as you may recall, I've had some public spats with him on his coverage of Israel's military and political predicaments and also on what we can reasonably expect from the Palestinians. Not much, I'm afraid.
Bronner published an article, "Israelis United on Gaza War Even as Censure Rises Abroad," in Tuesday's Times that is absolutely accurate. In fact, most of Israel sees this military engagement as long-over due. And they have begun to realize that for seven or eight years they were left by their fellow citizens in the lurch with rockets landing on their heads and homes without Israel making a peep, except for a very occasional tit-for-tat gesture.
Bronner seems to concur with the with much of the sentiment he describes,
Because Hamas booby-traps schools, apartment buildings and the zoo, and its fighters hide among civilians, it is Hamas that is viewed here as responsible for the civilian toll. Hamas is committed to Israel’s destruction and gets help and inspiration from Iran, so that what looks to the world like a disproportionate war of choice is seen by many here as an obligatory war for existence.Tuesday
1. Israel reoccupies Gaza. No one wants this, no one. But some now regret the 2005 withdrawal, and for perfectly understandable reasons.
2. A cease-fire now. Nobody believes that Hamas would abide by its tenets. It would have no teeth. The Security Council resolution was, well, a Security Council resolution... vague, unrealistic... and, in any case, turned down by Hamas the day or the day after it was passed Israel did the same a bit later.
3. Ceasefire plus agreement on the Gaza-Egypt border. What is likely to happen is a version of this, with the burden being on Egypt to clamp down on the smuggling of weapons from the Sinai. Bedouins are engaged is this intricate trade. Buck doesn't tell us that this trade in rockets comes from Iran and would soon have expanded, were it not for the Israeli assault, to the delivery of Fajr missiles, which are easier to target, have greater range and pack much more destructive power.
Surely Egypt is not eager for this role. But I'm not sure that it would welcome any substantial help from European powers. So the FT article leaves it at Egypt doing the chore. Although I know that the prevention of heavy arms smuggling into Gaza is impossible I also know that Europe wouldn't want its troops doing the job.
Prime minister Erdogan of Turkey has offered his own soldiers for the task. And Hamas has accepted Turkish soldiers as watchmen. Wouldn't you know it? Erdogan has denounced Israel for "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity." Why wouldn't Hamas agree to his musketeers? But Israel won't, and for very good reason.