Israel Must Maintain Security Control

Israel’s goal in the current war is to destroy Hamas. Destroying Hamas does not mean that Hamas is left so depleted that they cannot conduct another Oct. 7 attack. There can be no permanent end to hostilities until the organization is destroyed, its rocket threat eliminated and all its hostages returned, including the remains of deceased hostages and soldiers.   

Israel’s position on this is not extreme. It is normal for any country in such a situation. President Joe Biden’s recent ceasefire plan does not meet any of Israel’s basic requirements and Israel should reject it. 

As for what should occur after the war, a new Pew poll showed that the people of Israel are firmly behind Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s view that Israel must exercise security control over Gaza for some time. No alternative scenario received significant support. 

It’s not surprising, then, that opposition leader Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party has dropped considerably in the polls. It is likely because of Lapid’s support for the Biden administration’s view that the Palestinian Authority should rule Gaza.   

Benny Gantz’s National Union party has been leading in the polls. But since he took an equivocal stance on Israeli military control of Gaza, he too has seen a drop in support. Netanyahu is now the most favored candidate to serve as prime minister.

Gantz’s recent decision to leave the Netanyahu government in the middle of a war will likely further erode his standing in the eyes of the Israeli public. It should be remembered that Gantz was Israel’s defense minister until late 2022. He helped put in place the military policies that failed miserably on Oct. 7. As a result, he likely does not have credibility with the Israeli public when he claims that his plan for Gaza will protect Israel’s security.   

It is alleged by Netanyahu’s political opponents that he has worked to keep Hamas in power over Gaza in place of the P.A. Netanyahu was not in power when Hamas conquered Gaza, however. He did allow Qatari money to go to Hamas, believing this would keep Gaza quiet, which proved to be a terrible mistake. Even if the military did not inform Netanyahu of the indications of a potential attack, the prime minister held overall responsibility for military policy and could have changed it before Oct. 7. However, the current war shows that outside of direct Israeli military action, there was no way to remove Hamas from power.

Netanyahu has given sufficient support to the P.A. to prevent Hamas from seizing control of Palestinian areas in Judea and Samaria. But the P.A. supported the Oct. 7 attack. Israel needs a new policy on Judea and Samaria, as neither P.A. nor Hamas rule of Judea and Samaria is good for Israel’s security or the possibility of peace.    

Before March 2002, the P.A. ruled Judea, Samaria and Gaza. As a result, Israel learned a deadly lesson, as the P.A.’s terror campaign murdered 135 Israeli civilians in March 2002 alone. Despite strong public opposition from President George W. Bush’s Secretary of State Colin Powell, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon launched a military operation and reimposed Israeli security control over Judea and Samaria.

As a result, terrorism dropped significantly. The P.A. has not fired rockets at Israel because Israeli security control prevents them from doing so. Thus, Israeli history proves that, regardless of whether the P.A. or Hamas is in charge, Israel must maintain security control if it is to have peace.

Moreover, now that Israel has discovered many tunnels from Rafah into Egypt used to smuggle weapons to Hamas, it is ludicrous to think that Egypt can play a positive role in Gaza.  

In fact, there is no alternative to Israeli security control. Polls show that over 70% of Palestinian Arabs in Gaza support Hamas rule and the Oct. 7 massacre. This is not surprising, since an ADL poll several years ago found that 93% of Palestinian Arabs are antisemitic—the most of any people in the world.   

Many people like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer claim they support Israel but not Netanyahu. Others falsely claim that Netanyahu is constrained by his right-wing coalition partners. Yet in November 2023, Netanyahu agreed to a short ceasefire that led to the release of 110 hostages, even though that ceasefire was opposed by his right-wing coalition partner Itamar Ben-Gvir.   

It is obvious that the attacks on Netanyahu, including President Joe Biden’s false claim that Israel is engaging in “indiscriminate bombing,” are politically motivated. Democrats believe the Gaza war is hurting Biden politically with his left-wing base. Thus, they want it to end immediately, even if it harms Israel’s security.   

Israel must maintain its position that the war does not end until Hamas’s terrorist capabilities are destroyed and all the hostages are returned. This is a commonsense position that the Biden administration should support.