Israel Must Retake Control of the Gaza Strip

Israel Must Retake Control
of the
Gaza Strip

© David Burton 2022


     Operation Breaking Dawn was a three-day Israeli military operation targeting Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in the Gaza Strip, lasting from the afternoon of Friday, August 5, 2022 to the night of Sunday, August 7,2022.
     It consisted of Israeli airstrikes on PIJ military and personnel targets in the Gaza Strip, to which PIJ responded by launching rockets at Israeli cities.
     The goal of the operation was to weaken PIJ’s capabilities in order to prevent the terror organization from carrying out an attack against Israel, along with re-establishing Israeli deterrence. According to Israeli intelligence, PIJ was planning to use anti-tank missiles and snipers to target Israeli civilians near the Gaza border.
     Hamas, the Palestinian terror organization that governs Gaza, did not participate in the conflict. Israel refrained from provoking Hamas in order to prevent a larger-scale war, while Hamas had no desire to hamper Gaza reconstruction or its own efforts to renew its capabilities following its devastating May 2021 conflict with Israel.
     In the afternoon of Friday, August 5, 2022, with a PIJ attack appearing increasingly imminent in Israeli intelligence assessments and southern Israel at a standstill, the IDF announced Operation Breaking Dawn and began to carry out airstrikes against PIJ across Gaza.
     Over the course of the weekend, Israel also arrested 20 Palestinians in the West Bank, 19 of whom were members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Israel reported that PIJ commanders Tayseer Jabari (northern Gaza commander), Khaled Mansour (southern Gaza commander), and Rafat al-Zamli (rocket unit commander) were killed by the Israeli air strikes.
     In response to Israel’s airstrikes, PIJ launched more than 1,000 rockets at Israel’s cities over the course of the three-day conflict. Of the PIJ launched rockets, Israel’s Iron Dome intercepted 95% of those that would have hit populated areas. Some 200 of the rockets malfunctioned and landed back within Gaza, reportedly killing 15 “Palestinians”.[1]

     Operation Breaking Dawn vividly underscored the pernicious paradox that has characterized Israel over the last five decades. On the one hand, the country displayed indisputable tactical and technological brilliance. On the other, some say that it has demonstrated that it is chronically afflicted by gross strategic imbecility.
     While some might find this assessment excessively severe, consider the massive enhancement of Israel’s tactical-technological capabilities since the 1967 Six-Day War and the commensurate degradation of Israel’s strategic position over the same period.
     After Israel’s stunning victory over the combined forces of six Arab armies and the widespread international admiration that followed, who would have imagined that Israel would be where it finds itself today? Enemy militias are deployed within mortar range of the nation’s parliament and the very idea of Jewish national sovereignty is under savage global attack.
     Moreover, the Arabs have succeeded in effectively wresting swathes of territory from Israeli control. Despite wallowing in backwardness and failure, they have advanced inexorably closer to Israel’s metropolises, industrial hubs and major population centers relative to the situation that prevailed in the immediate aftermath of the 1967 war.
     Moreover, many of Israel’s recent technological marvels were developed in order to deal with threats that only arose because of strategic myopia. For example, the much-vaunted Iron Dome defense system was created to deal with the rocket threat that emerged following the ill-advised abandonment of the Gaza Strip in 2005. Likewise, the ultra-sophisticated, billion-dollar barrier surrounding the Gaza Strip was constructed in response to the maze of underground attack tunnels that proliferated once the IDF pulled out.
     Had anyone in 2005 warned that Israel would be facing the threats it faces today, they would have been dismissed and denounced as radical right-wing scaremongers.
     The perennial defect in Israeli strategy has been based on the faulty perception that the Palestinian Arabs should be treated as potential peace partners rather than implacable enemies. This spawned the additional assumption that the “Palestinian” public is the unfortunate victim of its bellicose leadership, rather than the source of that leadership itself.
     Just how hopelessly out of touch with reality Israeli leaders are was underscored by senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar’s rejection of then-Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s 2017 offer to turn Gaza “into the Singapore of the Middle East.” Liberman proposed building a seaport and an airport, as well as creating an industrial zone that could have produced 40,000 jobs in the Strip. All this would have been done if Hamas would agree to demilitarization and dismantled the tunnel and rocket systems it had built.
     The Hamas response came quickly. Zahar dismissed Lieberman’s offer, sneering, “If we wanted to turn Gaza into Singapore, we would have done it ourselves. We do not need favors from anyone.”
     This tart retort prompted a bleak observation from Gatestone scholar Bassam Tawil, “Why did Hamas reject an offer for a seaport, airport and tens of thousands of jobs for “Palestinians”? Because Hamas does not see its conflict with Israel as an economic issue. The dispute is not about improving the living conditions of “Palestinians”, as far as Hamas is concerned. Instead, it is about the very existence of Israel.” Simply stated, the ultimate Hamas objective is the elimination of Israel.
     Tawil caustically added: “Hamas deserves credit for one thing: Its honesty concerning its intentions to destroy Israel and kill as many Jews as possible. Hamas does not want 40,000 new jobs for the poor unemployed “Palestinians” in the Gaza Strip. It would rather see these unemployed “Palestinians” join its ranks and become soldiers in its quest to replace Israel with an Islamic empire.” Is there any question about why Israel must retake control of the Gaza Strip???
     Those who subscribe to the rationale underpinning Israeli strategy appear to cling to the unsubstantiated and false belief that most Gazans resent Hamas and would willingly cast off its authoritarian control of their lives, especially if it would enhance their economic well-being.
     Such naďve optimism does not only fly in the face of Zahar’s statement, but is refuted by the results of public opinion surveys conducted by reputable “Palestinian” pollsters.
     For example, one survey showed that in the immediate aftermath of “Operation Guardian of the Walls” in May 2021, despite the heavy damage inflicted on Gaza and its residents, public support for Hamas rose steeply.
     Over 70% of those polled naively believed that Hamas’s motive in the fighting was to defend Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Almost 80% felt Hamas had won the clash with Israel and nearly two-thirds thought Hamas had achieved the goals it set for itself. Public assessment of Hamas’s performance was “excellent.” Hamas had indeed won the war of replacing reality with fantasy.
     Similar praise was assigned to Israeli Arabs for their violent riots across Israel. Almost 55% considered Hamas, rather than Palestinian Authority (PA) chief Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah Party, worthy of representing and leading the “Palestinians”.
     Moreover, nearly 95% of those surveyed felt a sense of pride in Hamas’s performance. Almost 70% expressed a willingness to renew the fighting if Israel carried out the Israeli court-mandated eviction of Arab residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem.
     A poll conducted in December 2021 reflected similar public sentiments, with support for Hamas significantly outstripping support for Fatah.
     Almost a quarter century has passed since Israel unilaterally abandoned the Gaza Strip, removing almost every vestige of Jewish presence and Zionist industry. In stark contrast to the promises made by the architects of that withdrawal, it has brought neither peace nor stability. Quite the reverse. The threat from Gaza has grown exponentially, from a terrorist nuisance to a strategic threat.
     Despite all this, Israeli policymakers have clung stubbornly to the idea that the Palestinian-Arabs in the Gaza Strip will undergo a miraculous metamorphosis that transforms them into something they have not been for over a hundred years - a Hamas-led peace-partner with Israel
     The periods of calm that have followed Israel’s clashes with Gaza have led to misguided discussion on whether the heavy damage and casualties inflicted deterred the enemy from further aggression. While it is true that each round of fighting led to a ceasefire, there is no indication that any substantial deterrence was achieved.
     In fact, the opposite is the case. Gaza terror groups have exploited the interbellum lulls to regroup, rearm and redeploy. They have emerged each time with their capabilities enhanced and their willingness to reengage undiminished.
     This pattern repeated itself in Operation Breaking Dawn. Israel displayed remarkably accurate intelligence capabilities and precise use of technological munitions to launch surgical strikes against the PIJ leadership. Yet despite an overwhelming preponderance of military might, the IDF was unable to stop the rocket fire from Gaza. Even with its leadership decapitated, the PIJ showed it could still rain down hundreds of missiles on Israel.
     Moreover, Israel again permitted its terrorist enemy to survive, inflicting what its adversary considered “acceptable losses,” leaving it spoiling for another fight.
     In its quest for lasting peace, Israel has run the gamut of possible policies: negotiated withdrawal, unilateral retreat and periodic military operations. None have brought about the desired result. At times, they have even been counterproductive.
     Israel’s political leaders have not understood these truths. They have resolutely refused to change their mentality. Surely the inconvenient truth, however unpalatable, should have become apparent, even to those reluctant to recognize reality.
     The reality is brutally simple: Israel cannot control the situation in Gaza until it controls Gaza. It cannot determine who rules Gaza or how it is ruled unless it rules Gaza itself. In other words, Israel must take, hold and govern the Gaza Strip indefinitely.
     In the end, the lesson of the Gaza Strip is that Israel must abandon the forlorn hope of winning Palestinian-Arab friendship. It must pursue different strategic goals. The maximum it can hope for is to be grudgingly accepted as an invincible rival. The minimum it must achieve is to be feared as a ferocious adversary, never to be trifled with.[2]

     Back in 1970 - just 3 short years after Israel wrested control of the Gaza Strip from Egypt - Golda Meir told American President Richard Nixon that “a ’Palestinian State’ [meaning the Gaza Strip and the West Bank] between us [Israel] and Jordan can only become a base from which it will be even more convenient to attack and destroy Israel.” (Ref. 3: pgs 416-417) From the beginning, it was clear to some that, left to the tender mercies of Islamic terrorists, there could be no peace between “Palestinians” controlled by Muslim extremists and the State of Israel.

     To the Arabs of the Middle East, hatred and revenge top all other considerations – even their own wellbeing and that of their children. Some 6-years after the Gaza Strip came under the control of Israel, Walter Eytan, an Israeli diplomat, wrote, that the Gaza Strip was “ ‘more prosperous, and probably freer, than at any time before, bound by increasingly close economic and personal ties with Israelis. Something like 40,000 of these Palestinians work each day in Israel.’ The situation of Gaza had been transformed. ‘Where formerly unemployment was endemic and terrorism rife, today every able-bodied person can find work either in Israel or in the Gaza Strip itself (where in fact a labor shortage prevails at the present time) . . . Every Palestinian Arab has been able to see for himself the benefits of normal, constructive co-existence with Israel.’ ” (Ref. 3 : Pgs 421-422)

     But, once Israel turned control of the Gaza Strip over to the Palestinian-Arabs, the situation changed radically. A terrorist organization, Hamas, took over and Israel became the victim of hate-driven terrorism in the form of thousands of rockets and “terror tunnels”. The citizens of Gaza also suffered under the yoke of a ruthless Hamas dictatorship. The Gaza economy tanked and unemployment became a fact of life. Did the “Palestinians” in Gaza rebel? Not in any visible fashion! They would rather kill Jews than attempt to make a better life for their children.

     Almost a quarter of a century has passed since Israel unilaterally abandoned the Gaza Strip - removing almost every vestige of Jewish presence and Zionist industry. Yet, in stark contradiction to predictions and pledges of architects of this retreat, it brought neither peace nor stability to either Israeli Jews or Gazan Arabs. Quite the reverse. The threat from Gaza has burgeoned exponentially, growing from the dimensions of a terrorist nuisance to a quasi-strategic threat, even capable of disrupting Israel’s international air traffic. Yet despite this, Israeli policymakers have clung stubbornly to the precept - unsupported by either any empirical evidence or any sound theoretical reasoning - that somehow the Palestinian-Arabs will undergo a miraculous transformation, which - for some unexplained reason - would change them into something they have not been for over a hundred years and induce them to docilely accept permanent control by the despised Judaic infidel over land they consider their own.
     Since the 2005 Disengagement, Israel has been compelled to undertake at least 4 major military campaigns and innumerable minor clashes with Hamas and other even more radical terror organizations in Gaza. In each of these, despite heavy damage inflicted by the IDF, Israel’s adversaries have eventually emerged stronger than before - with capabilities today that would have appeared inconceivable prior to the 2005 Disengagement.
     Clearly, Operations Cast Lead (2008-9), Pillar of Defense (2012), Protective Edge (2014), Black Belt (2019), Guardian of the Walls (2021), and most recently Breaking Dawn (2022), together with countless interim skirmishes, have done nothing to advance progress towards a lasting cessation of hostilities. Neither will future operations of similar nature - whether they are dubbed “Rolling Thunder”, “Bolt of Lightning” or . . . ”Smoke and Mirrors”.
     There remains one simple - indeed, brutally simple - political solution that governs the recalcitrant reality in Gaza. It is - or should be - clear that Israel cannot determine events that emanate from Gaza unless it controls the territory from which they emanate. It cannot determine who rules Gaza, or how it is ruled - unless it rules it itself.
     For, as three decades have irrefutably demonstrated, Palestinian-Arab enmity towards Israel is not fueled by what Israel does, but by what Israel is - namely Jewish. Arab animosity is not driven by Israel’s policies but by Israel’s existence.
     This reality dictates that Israel must take, hold, and govern the Gaza Strip indefinitely.[4]

     It has become increasingly evident that the residents of the Gaza Strip have no comprehension of who or what they want to govern them. They have become slaves to Islamic extremist who care not one whit for the welfare of the citizens of Gaza. The Gazan oppressors espouse only hatred for Jews and the State of Israel. To Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Hamas and other Islamic extremist organizations, the Arab residents of the Gaza Strip are merely fodder to be used as necessary in their eternal war against the “Jewish infidels.” The Palestinian-Arabs in Gaza cannot discern the difference between the truth and the Islamic fanatic fiction being force-fed them. The Arab citizens of Gaza are seemingly blind to the facts that: historically, they were infinitely better off when ruled by Israel and that they would be infinitely better off if Israel were to retake control of the Gaza Strip.

     When fighting erupted between Israel and the hard line Palestinian militant group, PIJ, in August of 2022, the battle lasted just 3 days, but it took a heavy toll: Gaza's Health Ministry said 49 Palestinians were killed, including 17 children.
     The Israeli military said it was targeting PIJ members for planning or executing attacks on Israelis. Israel says it killed 20 militants and acknowledged killing some civilians. According to Israel, Islamic Jihad responded to the attacks by firing more than 1,100 rockets. Some of those rockets killed Gazan civilians when the projectiles fell short and landed in Gaza. Close to a third of Palestinians who died in the latest outbreak of violence may have been killed by errant rockets fired by the “Palestinian” side, according to an Israeli military assessment that appears consistent with independent reporting by The Associated Press.
     People in Gaza said they believed the violence, and duration, would have been even worse had the larger, ruling militant group, Hamas, gotten involved.
     Most Gazans support resistance against Israel and the militants do have active supporters. But many residents have become frustrated at the groups over the ever-present problems of unemployment, a severe power shortage, deep poverty and the recurrent fighting with Israel. Some analysts see a rift forming between Hamas and PIJ, even though they project the image of unity.
     The people of Gaza want a say when war erupts. As Ahmed, a 37-year-old Gazan said: "The people should have a say . . . because we end up paying the price."
     Hamas took over Gaza from the Palestinian Authority (PA) about 15 years ago, leading Israel to impose heavy restrictions on goods and people transiting Gaza's borders. Hamas has fought multiple wars against Israel in those 15 years.
     Some Gazans have accused Hamas of abandoning PIJ, even as Israel targeted the group's leaders. Israel called the operation a success that severely set back Islamic Jihad.
     The rivalry between the two extremist organizations in Gaza has never been more obvious, according to Tholfekar Swairjo, a “Palestinian” political analyst.
     "First of all, Hamas wants to protect its authority in the Gaza Strip," he said. "There is boiling anger in the streets against the Hamas movement. They are blamed for the very low quality of life in Gaza, and so now they don't want to engage in any war that would increase the level of anger against them. . .”
     Gazans are now realizing that they pay the price of fighting between Israel and militant groups. Swairjo said that Hamas couldn't jeopardize 2022 understandings with Israel that would bring economic relief to Gaza. Under this new understanding, thousands of Palestinians from Gaza were allowed to work in Israel, and there was also an increase in goods and supplies going into Gaza.
     "Islamic Jihad say economic incentives that Israel has offered to Gaza has become a knife to the neck of the armed resistance," Swairjo said.
     Unlike Hamas, which participates in elections and now governs, Swairjo said, Islamic Jihad has no political ideology or even goals beyond fighting Israel. And that can attract a lot of different groups, from Islamists to secular and leftist followers.
     For many Gazans, however, there's no difference between Hamas and PIJ. A 32-year-old woman resident of Gaza told NPR that: "Most Gazans have stopped believing in Hamas and the others. You know why? Because they don't feed us, they don't provide anything. You have to depend on yourself. How can we build a future with these guys? And all the back-to-back wars?"
     "There is no guarantee for anything in Gaza," she said. "We don't know when or why or how the war happens."
     All that's known is, when war happens, no one is safe, regardless of politics.[5]

     In spite of the apparent conflict between the two terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip, a delegation of officials from Hamas – the Iranian-backed terrorist organization that runs the Gaza Strip – met with the secretary-general of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in his Beirut, Lebanon office in late August of 2022.
     The meeting represented ongoing efforts by the two terrorist organizations to establish an impression of unity following the conflict between Israel and the PIJ in Gaza in early August. During the operation – which lasted just 3 days – Hamas stayed out of the action as PIJ fired rockets at Israel.
     The Hamas delegation to Beirut later met with the leader of yet another terrorist organization, Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, who had met with the PIJ leader a few days prior.
     Contributing to the tensions between PIJ and Hamas was the fact that a misfired PIJ rocket had killed a Hamas terrorist during the confrontation with Israel. On 7 August 2022, a PIJ rocket killed an off-duty “Hamas-affiliated” police officer, and his three children, when it landed on their house.
     After the meeting, Hamas released a statement saying that they had agreed that “any disagreement over a tactical approach would never affect their long-standing and strategic relationship”, that relationship being focused on the elimination of the State of Israel and the removal - one way or another - of all Jews from the region.
     The two groups discussed the latest developments in the Middle East and thanked Iran, their greatest benefactor, and the Iranian proxy terrorist organization Hezbollah for “supporting Palestinian resistance,” i.e., the unending terrorist attacks on Israel and against Israel’s civilians.[6]

     As early as 2014, it was apparent to some that the only solution to the Arab terrorism emanating from the Gaza Strip was Israel’s retaking control of the Strip.
     Since Israel withdrew from Gaza, its military has failed to find an answer to the rocket and missile fire emanating from there. What, then, is the alternative to retaking the Gaza Strip? Flattening it?
     Shimon Peres and those of his persuasion convinced Israel and the Jews to ignore Gaza. But Gaza then became the central flash point that has led to just about every terrorist attack on Israel and its people ever since.
     By 2014, the withdrawal from Gaza had generated 3 wars - or shall we say "Operations" - it certainly did not prevent them. Now, only by planting the flag with the Star of David, only by retaking that Strip, can Jews hope to ensure a modicum of peace and quiet.
     There is no substitute for Jewish presence and control in Gaza. It was not soldiers who were “sent to guard the settlers" there. On the contrary, it was "the settlers" who were sent to Gaza to guard the entire land of Israel. Today, Israel needs to retake Gaza and to be proud of the Jews who once lived and were buried there.[7]

     Back in 2014, in the wake of a round of rocket attacks from Gaza, at least 2 top government ministers - Israel’s Intelligence and Strategy Minister and its Foreign Minister - called on Israel to retake Gaza. In a stinging recrimination to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan, which included the forced expulsion of some 10,000 Israelis when their homes were demolished and the land they were built on handed over to the Palestinian Authority (PA), one minister said that Israeli control of Gaza was the only way to restore peace and quiet in southern Israel.
     “Sooner or later we will have to take control of Gaza, in order to get rid of the Hamas regime,” he said. While an operation like that would be distasteful to many Israelis, there really was no choice. “This really should have been done in 2012, in Operation Pillar of Defense, when they fired rockets at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The IDF entered Gaza and managed to halt the firing of rockets for a time . . . but we should have continued.”
     Joining the call was then Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman. In a Facebook posting, Liberman expanded on comments he made previously, in which he said that Israel needed to retake Gaza.
     Sharon and others who advocated the benefits of the disengagement said that there was no reason to worry; if Israel faced any trouble from Gaza, the IDF could walk right back in and take over again. But they were wrong. “Since the intifada, Gaza has turned into a 'kingdom of terror,' with Hamas firing sophisticated missiles at Israel.” Operation Pillar of Defense brought just a small respite from the ongoing rocket attacks, and not the permanent quiet Israel and residents of the south need.
     “We cannot allow the areas that Israel evacuated to be used for terror attacks on us. “The only solution is a reversal of the process, a retaking of Gaza.”[8]

     Now, in the year 2022, more than ever, it needs to be understood by all - even by the people of Gaza themselves if their lot is ever to improve - that Israel must retake control of the Gaza Strip! Once and for all, the terrorist organizations - like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad - must be exorcised from the territory.

  2. Israel must take and hold Gaza indefinitely – analysis, Martin Sherman, World Israel News, 29 August 2022.
  3. Israel: A History, Martin GilbertHarper Perennial, 1998.
  4. INTO THE FRAY: Pernicious Paradox: Israel’s Tactical Brilliance vs Strategic Imbecility,
    Martin Sherman,, 29 August 2022.
  5. Palestinians grow frustrated with militants in Gaza, and a rift could be forming, Fatma Tanis,,
    26 August 2022.
  6. Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad meet in Beirut, vow to strengthen cooperation, All Arab News,
    29 August 2022.
  7. The Only Solution is a Return to Gaza, Giulio Meotti, Israel National News, 9 July 2014.
  8. Growing Calls for Israel to Retake Gaza, David Lev, Israel National News, 13 March 2014.

  10 November 2022 {Article_553; Israel_71}    
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