There are a lot of frustrated people in Israel today. There are also a lot of relieved people in Israel today. Some are even willing to admit that they are both.
The frustrated people think that the ceasefire with Hamas will not be long term, and that we have not solved the problem in Gaza. They think that by refusing to go in on the ground and fight Hamas now that we are just kicking the can down the road.
If you look at Israel and frame the problem only by looking at the security threat on its southern border – they would be right. The problem has not been solved and Hamas will eventually break the ceasefire and start shooting rockets at the south again.
Unfortunately, in Israel, the security problems we have are not limited to just our southern border. We are surrounded by enemies on all of our borders, and we have an arch-enemy in the form of a genocidal maniac who is trying to get nuclear weapons. We are a feisty and courageous people who have a deep faith in G-d and believe that He will save us from our enemies. At the same time we cannot rely on miracles and we must use our G-d given intellectual capabilities to look at the map clearly. It would be foolish to put ourselves in a position where we need to fight on all fronts at once. Destroying most of the rockets held in Gaza, and killing key operatives there has gained us some quiet in the south. If we go after Iran, and Iran’s proxies in the form of Hizbullah in the north start to fire rockets from there, it will be easier to fight on two fronts rather than three. The fact that the terrorists will try to send out suicide bombers to our cities and enact terrorist attacks in Yehuda and Shomron (Judea and Samaria) – both of which happened in the past few days – shows that we always have the additional “central” front to worry about.
Politically we are not an island either. I do not believe that Israel should give in to pressure from any other country against its own best interests. On the other hand, there is no reason not to manipulate events so that we are in a win/win situation. Manipulating Egypt into being responsible for what Hamas does, by using the United States’s pressure on them in terms of their financial aid, was a smart move. Using the social media in addition to the regular media in order to explain our situation in Israel, and framing the security threat in terms of “what would your country do?” was brilliant and long overdue. Stopping the operation when the international community was on our side was smart. You sometimes need to build up goodwill so that you can cash in on it later. Now is the time to deposit – if we are attacked on all sides it will be time to cash in.
Another aspect to the situation is the internal political one. We Jews pull together when we are threatened – but unfortunately this unity does not last long. In order for everyone to “be on the same page” a military operation has to be relatively quick. Going into a ground war with terrorists, who would hide behind civilians, would not be quick. The only time an Israeli politician would do something like that would be soon after the elections, and with a huge mandate from the people. This is not the situation now.
There are many people in Israel who are relieved now. Noone wants to see their husband and sons go into a war – especially one that is lopsided. We know that we will not indiscriminately bomb the people in Gaza, as this is not our way, and in my opinion shouldn’t be our way. Most of the people who say “just flatten the place” are not the ones who will fire the bombs to do it, and are not the ones who will need to live with themselves afterwards. This leaves us with the unsavory option of an urban war, which is much more dangerous for our soldiers.
Unfortunately, our enemies never really give up. We will always need to fight them – and there really is no such thing as “zbang v’gamarnu” – Hebrew slang for “one big smack and then we are done”. We are always kicking the can down the road in Israel. It is better to do it when you have something to show for it than when you have been beaten. Those frustrated Israelis who want to go in and fight – will have another chance.