Save Gaza by Destroying the Heart of Terror

[Bloomberg] Natan Sharansky - If there is hope in the West Bank today, it is because Israel abandoned the ideas of proportionality and diplomacy in handling terror in 2002, when it launched Operation Defensive Shield to retake control of the West Bank in response to a Palestinian suicide bombing campaign. With the terror infrastructure removed, Palestinians could begin rebuilding their civic institutions and changing their attitude toward violence. During the three years that passed after pulling out all troops and settlements from the Gaza Strip in 2005, Israel chose to respond to Hamas' deadly, daily rocket attacks with proportionality and diplomacy. The result? More rockets, more missiles, more misery for Palestinians - and enough breathing space for Hamas to take over the Gaza Strip, devastate its society, build a much more powerful arsenal than it had in 2005 and become the vanguard of Iranian expansionism in the region. Terrorism is a cancer that can't be cured through "proportional" treatments. It requires invasive surgery. It threatens not only democratic states that are its target, but also - foremost - the local civilians who are forced into its fanatical ranks, deployed as human shields, and devastated by its tyranny. The longer one waits to treat it, the worse it gets, and the harsher the treatment required to defeat it. Peace can be found only when Palestinians are given the freedom to build real civic institutions, and a leadership can emerge unafraid of telling its own citizens that violence, fanaticism and martyrdom aren't the Palestinian way. But this can happen only once the malignancy of terror is removed from their midst. The writer is chairman of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem and a former deputy prime minister of Israel.

2009-01-16 06:00:00

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