We now have a window of opportunity to fix Gaza

By Ronen Hoffman, September 4, 2014
The Strip under IDF fire

The Strip under IDF fire

While Hamas made every effort during the conflict to project the image of a battle between two equal forces, in fact the fighting was asymmetrical and Hamas took devastating hits. The IDF eliminated hundreds of Hamas activists and effectively neutralised its strategic capabilities.

Israel severely damaged Hamas's rocket infrastructure, which it had invested in for years; the Iron Dome air defence system intercepted the vast majority of rockets; and Israelis demonstrated a high level of resilience, which prevented Hamas from inflicting the pain that it had been anticipating.

In addition, Israel destroyed 32 terror tunnels.

Hamas also failed in its attempt to capture Israeli soldiers alive, despite having set that as its strategic goal. Although Israel also paid a high price, losing 64 soldiers and six civilians, it did force Hamas into an open-ended ceasefire with no achievement to show for its efforts.

The ongoing ceasefire is a milestone in a process that must take place if Israel wishes to ensure the long-term safety and security of its citizens: the process of disarming Hamas.

During Operation Protective Edge, a remarkable window of opportunity has presented itself, one which could bring about the disarmament of Gaza and its rehabilitation.

This opening was created when Western and moderate Arab countries realised that Hamas and Isis belong to the same terrorist axis that threatens the more moderate entities in the region and, in fact, that poses a threat to the entire world.

In order to make the most this global shift, Israel must engage the relevant countries and international bodies: Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf Arab States, the US, Europe and the UN.

Israel must prevent a scenario in which Gaza is rehabilitated without being disarmed. The rebuilding of the Strip must be conditioned upon the removal of Hamas's offensive weaponry.

A regional grouping headed by Egypt now needs to be set up. Through close collaboration with moderate entities in the region, Egypt can create a noose around Hamas, forcing it to hand over its strategic weapons while at the same time facilitating the economic development of Gaza.

Such a regional coalition could also become a foundation for long-standing co-operation between Israel and the moderate Arab countries.

MK Dr Ronen Hoffman (Yesh Atid) is a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee and the chairman of the Sub-Committee on Foreign Policy and Public Diplomacy

Last updated: 3:47pm, September 4 2014