December 14, 2018

Rocket Fired at Be’er-Sheva: Is War in Gaza Imminent?

Palestinians celebrate after Hamas said it reached a deal with Palestinian rival Fatah, in Gaza City October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

1.

Gaza is, again, on the verge of war. Israel has no desire to have such war, but when rockets are fired at Beer Sheva and towards Gush Dan – the urban center of Israel – it might have no choice other than to act. Hamas’ calculations are more complicated. War is dangerous for Hamas, but apparently its leaders concluded that they can no longer sustain the current, miserable economic situation. Egypt is trying to mediate, but a war in Gaza is faraway – a headache, not a crisis. The Palestinian Authority seems to want war. If Gaza burns it puts the Palestinian issue back on the table, it gives the PA a little hope that a Hamas defeat would make it – the PA – the alternative. And of course, a war in Gaza would provide the PA with an opportunity to attack Israel in international forums.

A war in Gaza is a small victory for the Palestinian Authority.

2.

Many critics of the above-mentioned players complain that they have no strategy for Gaza. This is true – because no one wants to have a strategy for Gaza that comes with responsibility for Gaza.

Israel pulled out and wants to have nothing to do with Gaza.

Egypt is wise enough to never take over this mess again.

The PA wants to rule Gaza – but not to pay the price of having to fight for Gaza.

For Hamas, Gaza is merely a launch pad for greater enterprises.

So it’s true: everybody uses tactics, some tactics of delay, some tactics of inflammation. The players have no long-term plan. The critics have no long-term plan. And even in case they have a plan, there is no one to implement a plan.

3.

What Gaza needs is what used to be called – in the good old days – nation building. But we all remember how difficult, unsuccessful, costly, demanding, violent and deadly nation building can be.

Any takers? I didn’t think so. Israel will definitely not be a nation builder in Gaza. If that’s the strategy proposed by outsiders – Israel is likely to stick to tactics. Contain, deter, delay – and from time to time have war.