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Yedioth Ahronoth: "Don't March into Gaza" by Amos Oz & AFP: "Amos Oz warns 'catastrophe' of Gaza invasion"

"Israel must not fall into the trap that Hamas is laying for us and march into Gaza."

2/12/08

 

Yedioth Ahronoth: "Don't March into Gaza" by Amos Oz

 

The rage, the frustration and the fulminating rhetoric have gone to our heads.

 

Israel must not fall into the trap that Hamas is laying for us and march into Gaza. Because the number of casualties in a ground incursion into Gaza will be far larger than the number of people hurt by Kassam rockets over seven years. And because in five out of the seven years of Kassam rockets, we controlled all of the Gaza Strip, and even so, hundreds of rockets were fired from there on Sderot, in addition to the lethal and repeated attacks against the settlers. Evidently we have forgotten.

 

Occupying Gaza will not necessarily put an end to the Kassam rocket fire on Sderot and its environs. It addition to the attacks on Sderot, the occupying forces will also come under attack daily-with roadside bombs, shooting attacks and terrible suicide bombings. And more: invading Gaza will unite the masses of Palestinians and the Arab world and the Muslim world around Hamas, which is now isolated and despised by a majority of the Arabs.

 

By having Israeli troops invade Gaza, Hamas fighters will be depicted in the eyes of the Palestinians, in the eyes of the Arab world and in the eyes of world public opinion as the Palestinian Masada-the few against the many, residential neighborhoods against a regular army, refugee camps against bomber planes, boys against tanks, David against Goliath.

 

As the rulers of Gaza, we will be sitting on a can of worms. The occupying force will not have a single quiet day. Nor will Sderot and its environs.

 

Even at these moments of rage, as our hearts go out to the continuous suffering of the residents of Sderot and its environs, we must not forget that the root of the Gaza problem is that hundreds of thousands of people are rotting there in refugee camps, camps that are hotbeds of poverty and despair, ignorance, religious and national zealotry, hatred and violence. From an historical perspective, there is no answer to the Gaza problem without there being, at least on the horizon, a degree of hope for these desperate people. 

 

What can be done now? It is possible and crucial to reach a cease-fire with Hamas in Gaza. A cease-fire like this has a difficult political price, of course. But of all the prices that Israel is liable to pay for an erroneous and hasty decision, this is the least fatal and most tolerable decision.


2/12/08

AFP: "Amos Oz warns 'catastrophe' of Gaza invasion"

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Novelist Amos Oz, a leader of Israel's peace movement, warned on Tuesday against an invasion of the Gaza Strip to snuff out militant rocket fire, saying it could prove catastrophic.

He called for a ceasefire with the Islamist movement Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in June and does not recognise Israel's right to exist.

"Israel should refrain from sending its army into Gaza," Oz told public radio amid growing calls for an all-out assault.

"Israel would expose itself to far more losses in such an operation than those that took place during seven years of rocket fire (on southern Israel)" since the September 2000 outbreak of the Palestinian uprising, he said.

"Moreover, such an operation would change nothing, given that rocket fire was happening when we controlled the Gaza Strip.

"Our presence in Gaza did not stop that," he said, referring to the 38-year occupation by Israeli troops and settlers that ended in a unilateral withdrawal in summer 2005.

"Instead, our occupation forces would be harassed day and night, and such an occupation would push the Palestinians to close ranks behind Hamas," which has long been at loggerheads with the Fatah party of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas that it expelled from Gaza.

"There would certainly be a political price to pay in agreeing to a ceasefire with Hamas," Oz added. "But I consider it better to pay that price than a military operation in Gaza, which could be catastrophic."

Writing in Israel's Haaretz newspaper, a Hamas official on Tuesday issued a new call for a ceasefire, a proposal which the Jewish state has rejected.

Born in Jerusalem in 1939, the internationally acclaimed Oz is often referred to as the "conscience of Israel."

In 1978, he co-founded Peace Now, Israel's leading anti-settlement peace movement. In the 1990s, he left the Labour party to join Meretz, a more left-leaning party adamant about making peace with the Palestinians.

Even so he has taken a hard line against those sworn to Israel's destruction and condemns every form of religious fanaticism.