In Israel, where I have been for ten days, there is consensus on the idea of destroying Hamas to the end. Society was traumatised, not only by the extent of its losses on October 7 – 1,250 killed, eight times more than during the entire second Lebanese war (summer 2006) – but also by the barbarity of the crimes committed by the Hamas terrorists against peaceful civilians.
On July 12 2006, Hezbollah also attacked the internationally recognized territory of Israel. But it was a patrol of soldiers that the Lebanese Shiite movement attacked. We were there in classic war. October 7 2023, on the other hand, looks like a pogrom.
The atrocities committed against Israeli women by Palestinian attackers speak volumes about the quality of their Islamic education by Hamas. The Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood has displayed a savagery that justifies its annihilation, in the eyes of the Israelis.
Not without reason, Israelis say today that if Israel had lost just one of the six wars that its Arab and Muslim neighbors fought against it in three-quarters of a century, there would probably not be a single Jew alive today. in the Holy Land. Historically, the Arab-Muslim world has tolerated Jews, but only as dhimmis, as second-class citizens.
As soon as they sought to gain political autonomy, they were violently rejected. Since 1948, the Jewish state has had to live in an Arab-Muslim environment hostile to its very existence.
In a revolutionary war like that practiced by Hamas, the Islamist movement just needs to not lose completely, to continue to be militarily active, to claim victory. This is what the Lebanese Hezbollah did after the war in the summer of 2006. Today, the Israeli government does not intend to provide the slightest gift to Hamas propaganda.
But is this a reason for Israel to continually create new enemies? This is exactly the question asked, on December 3, by the American Secretary of Defense when he said that Israel would, by continuing its indiscriminate bombings on an area as densely populated as the south of the Strip Gaza , transform a tactical victory into a strategic defeat.
One thing is to prevent Gaza from once again becoming a base for attacks on Israeli territory, another is to create thousands of orphans, who will tomorrow be the most resolute enemies of the Jewish people.
When we hear the criticism multiply, even in America, Israel’s faithful ally, we say to ourselves that it is time for the Israeli right to stop doing anything. It’s time she put these trigger-happy fanatical settlers in the West Bank into the shade. It is time for the IDF to stop destroying the infrastructure that will tomorrow be essential to normal life in Gaza.
But, after so much suffering on both sides, the most important thing is the map that the Jewish state should prepare for the aftermath of the war. Do they want to continue living in this intermittent chaos, retaining military control of 100 per cent of Mandatory Palestine, or is he prepared to let go of 22 per cent, for the creation of a demilitarised Palestinian state and peace on its borders?
The moment of truth is approaching for Israel. It imprudently disengaged unilaterally from the Gaza Strip in 2005 – which allowed Hamas to take it by force – rather than gradually handing over the reins to the Palestinian Authority , and helping it to build a sui generis development model.
Today, it is appropriate to resume, where they left off, the Olmert-Abbas negotiations of the summer of 2008.
The Palestinian leader made the mistake of not taking up the generous offer made then (three settlement blocs annexed by Israel representing 80 per cent of the settlers, a Palestinian state on 94 per cent of the West Bank , the remaining 6 per cent taken from the Israeli Negev, sovereign corridor linking Gaza to the West Bank, Palestinian capital in the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem, international administration of the holy sites).
This is no reason not to take it again.
It will be up to the regional powers to convince the Palestinians of the impossibility of a return to Israel of the Arab refugees of 1948, the country wishing to remain a Jewish state. America has the means to politically support this solution and the petromonarchies to finance it.
But the moment of truth will also be that of the Palestinians. If they do not seize the outstretched hand and the opportunity to build their state, if they persist in their dream of throwing the Jews into the sea, then nothing more can be done for them.
They will have deserved their disastrous fate.
This column first appeared in Le Figaro.