BRIDGES: No end to conflict


THERE is no military solution to the problem of Gaza, or the West Bank or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Because if and when the war ends, both sides will declare victory.

Israel will declare victory and claim that it dealt a blow to Hamas. It will believe that has hit Hamas with so much firepower that Hamas will recognize the fact that it cannot challenge Israel’s might.

Israel is convinced Hamas will think long and hard before launching another attack because of the enormous damage inflicted on Gaza and to its people.

Israel will claim that it has weakened the Palestinian Sunni Islamic organization, even defeated it.

But we all know that Hamas will never surrender. Its leaders will not raise a white flag no matter how much of Gaza is destroyed.

At the end of the war, Hamas leaders and military commanders will emerge from their underground shelters intact and in control. They will believe that they dictated the pace of the war and so declare victory.

They will sing praises to the heroes of Hamas for surviving the onslaught of the Israeli military. They will talk about the courageous fighters of the resistance. They will speak about missiles putting Israelis into shelters. They will talk about how they were able to kill scores of Israeli soldiers – by land, sea and air. They will talk about shutting Israel’s civil aviation down.

Hamas will take full credit for those achievements.

But we all know that Hamas cannot defeat Israel. But just as Israel improves from war to war, so does Hamas.

Hamas has proven its high level of motivation and ability to hurt Israel. There is no reason to believe it will not have even more effective tactics in the future. And if Hamas is not the enemy, it will be a group that could be far worse than Hamas.

And so the cycle of violence begins again because this will not be the last round. It will not end because none of the real issues have been addressed. The conflict will continue, there will be no genuine peace process.

Like in the past, no deterrence has been created. It is very sad, but this is how the war really ends: only the people on both sides will lose.

But there is still a way out of this mess. This is what can bring all sides together and work for a durable peace – it must be a regional effort, and regional security and stability can be achieved for the benefit of both Israel and Palestine. This is a complex process and will take time, but it can be done.

Because only if the real issues are finally addressed – the occupation, the continued suffering of the people, the need to negotiate a real and comprehensive peace – will there be true and lasting end to the suffering, destruction and killing./PN