It’s really up to them, isn’t it? I’m posting below Gershon Baskin’s current analysis:
The government of Israel had little choice but to use military means to confront the challenge of the rockets from Gaza. The indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel’s civilian population is intolerable, a war crime and had to be stopped. In the course of confronting this challenge Israel has discovered that a much larger strategic threat is the tunnels, estimated by the US to number more than 60 where Hamas combatants could enter into Israeli civilian communities along the border and carry out mega terrorist attacks.
The massive air force bombardment of Gaza by Israel did not lessen the challenges; the rockets kept being shot into Israel and in fact intensified. The tunnels became active and continue to be used, so far killing soldiers only. The ceasefire proposals being offered by Hamas do not include the demilitarization of Gaza. Hamas rejects any thought of an agreement that will prevent them from rearming and massing more military strength to kill Israelis.
The Israeli ground operation is aimed to confront the threats, but as we have already seen, the killing of non-combatants, not unexpectedly, even with all of the care that the Israeli army takes to prevent innocent casualties, are unavoidable. Gaza is an extremely densely populated area and there is no place to hide. The underground bunkers are protecting the Hamas leadership and its military commanders. Those taking the hits are the Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Not a single important Hamas commander has been killed, but hundreds of civilians have paid with their lives.
The bottom line is that there is no military solution that Israel can offer. The Hamas regime can be brought down by Israel; Israel has the capabilities to do this. But it will require a full re-occupation of Gaza for an extended period of time and in the end, I fear the Israeli victory in Gaza will look very much like the victory of George W. Bush over Sadaam Hussein – and look at Iraq today.
Gaza must be dealt with but the end result should be comprehensive including security, political and economic. The framework must be done through the region: Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the national reconciliation Government of Palestine – under President Abbas. The Arab League must give backing to a regional-Arab led force to demilitarize Gaza. This together with a US led technical team locating and destroying tunnels that lead to Israel from Gaza. There must be a political plan, supported by the Arab League and Israel and backed by the Security Council, utilizing the Arab Peace Initiative to finally end Israel’s occupation over the Palestinian people and creating a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. New Palestinian elections to elect a legitimate and recognized Palestinian leadership must be convened as soon as possible. And a very large international fund for the reconstruction of Gaza and Palestine of multi billions.
In the absence of a comprehensive approach such as this, the casualties will have been in vane and we will return to this situation with worse conditions in the not too distant future.