What will happen after the conflict ends in Gaza? “America Wants to Help, But Is Undermining the War Effort,” by Meir Ben-Shabbat, JNS.org, December 10, 2023:
Nevertheless, Israel cannot compromise on achieving its goals while minimizing the burden on its fighters—regardless of how long it takes. This is the message Israel has to drive home when US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan visits in the coming days.
Those who insist on getting answers from the Israeli government over what happens “the day after” are doing so despite knowing full well that there are no good options in Gaza. If there were, they would have presumably been implemented during one of the many opportunities to do so over the years….
There is something absurd, and even cruel, about the Bidenites’ demanding that Israel spell out what it plans for the “day after” the war ends. How can anyone know the mood either of the Gazans — will they turn on Hamas in rage at the destruction the terrorists brought on everyone in Gaza, or become more fanatical in their hatred of Israel? — or of the Israelis, whose plans may depend on what happens to the hostages (will they all be freed by Hamas, or murdered?), or on how many casualties the IDF ultimately endures. It is clear that the Israeli government wants the IDF to remain for “months” in Gaza in order to completely clear the Strip of weapons. Will the Bidenites allow the Israelis the time necessary to fulfill that difficult task, or start to browbeat them to “hurry up” and suggest that America’s continued diplomatic support — such as exercising a veto at the Security Council — should not be taken for granted.
Israel must pursue Hamas with relentless attacks to achieve the goal of destroying it and achieving the goal of freeing the hostages. It is the ferocity of the former that is most likely to assure the success of the latter. Hamas has to be constantly reminded that it is being held responsible for every single one of the hostages, including those held by other groups such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or even by individual Gazans who may have taken a female hostage or two for their private, hideous delectation.
As the fighting continues, the IDF and the Shin Bet security agency continue to crack down on terrorists in Judea and Samaria. Israel’s political leaders must decide whether to allow Palestinian workers from Judea and Samaria to return to work in Israel, which has been prevented since Oct. 7 except for a relatively small number of positions defined as critical even at this time.
The main argument for allowing them back into Israel is the fear that economic hardship, frustration and unemployment will push them to act against Israel. Another consideration is the impact on the Israeli economy, particularly housing construction. Against these considerations stands the concern over attacks they may perpetrate because they have been inspired by Hamas in Gaza or because they want to avenge the deaths there, especially in light of the images and propaganda broadcast continuously on Al Jazeera….
I don’t think any Israeli at this point wants a single Palestinian worker from the West Bank, or Gaza, to return to work inside either Israel or the territories It is widely believed in Israel that some of those 20,000 workers from Gaza provided intelligence to Hamas that helped 3,000 of its operatives surge unopposed into Israel on October 7 to do what they did. They may have been given information on weak spots in the security fence, or on the security details at various kibbutzim, or even on the structure and placement of “safe” rooms, or on the weapons available to the people in the kibbutzim.
The argument that some of these workers should be allowed back into Israel because otherwise their economic despair will embitter them rings hollow. They will understand that they have only Hamas to blame for an end to those jobs inside Israel. As for the argument that Israel “needs” those workers for construction jobs, there are many non-Muslim foreigners, such as the 30,000 Thai workers already in Israel (some were killed by Hamas, others taken hostage), whose numbers could be quickly increased to fill the jobs no longer available to Palestinian guest-workers. Imagine the fear of ordinary Israelis, after all that has happened since October 7, if they had to endure the presence of tens of thousands of Palestinian workers throughout their land. It would be an intolerable situation, fraught with fear.
Ben-Shabbat notes that the Israeli public is now quick to notice any Palestinian in its midst; they stand out, as they did not before October 7, when 120,000 Palestinian workers were to be found all over Israel. This reduction in their numbers to zero helps Israelis in both the “detection” of potential terrorists and in ”neutralization” — i.e., wounding or killing those bent on terrorism, ideally before they have a chance to do significant harm. And ending the guest-worker program tells the Palestinians that Israel exacts an economic price as part of its response to Hamas atrocities.
Meir Ben-Shabbat clearly favors ending the guest-worker program for Palestinians. Not just because of the anxiety those workers’ presence will now, quite understandably, cause Israelis, and the great security risks they bring as potential terrorists, or as collaborators bringing back intelligence to terrorists in Gaza and the West Bank, but because he wants the Palestinians to turn on Hamas. And he thinks those Palestinians whose livelihoods are harmed because they can no longer work in Israel will blame Hamas — as of course they should — for this state of affairs.