An Israeli-Gaza ceasefire that includes the opening up of the Gaza strip to free passage is a guarantee that there will be a next war, and that it will be far more brutal and deadly than the current one. Free passage to Gaza simply means that Hamas will be freer to arm itself with more powerful weapons than it already has; it doesn’t mean more food or jobs for the Palestinians. Money has been pouring into Gaza for years, yet the civilians live in poverty while their leaders use the money for weapons. Hamas has consistently shown its blatant disregard for the Palestinians’ welfare – their firing of rockets benefits the Palestinians in no way whatsoever.
As for Hamas’ view of Israel, there is no illusion that they would ever agree to live in peace next to Israel. From their founding charter to their day-to-day activities and propaganda, it is evident that if anyone sincerely wants peace as an objective, leaving Hamas intact will never ever allow the world to meet that goal.
For years the international community has regarded occupation as the problem (despite obvious flaw in that logic that the conflict long preceded occupation). Israel ended the occupation of Gaza in 2005, and it didn’t bring peace – quite the opposite. Then the international community cried “it’s settlements”. All the settlements in Gaza were removed, and it was evident that settlements aren’t the real problem either. Occupation and settlements are a symptom of the real problem, which is that Hamas and other Palestinian groups are simply not interested in a peaceful solution under any circumstances. Glossing over the real problem has never brought a solution, and it is irresponsible to imagine that they will. The same holds true for opening up the Gaza Strip, while leaving Hamas intact. It will mean more weapons for the Palestinians, not a better standard of living. While the West can convince itself that opening up the strip is a noble goal, it is Israelis who will pay the price once again for the West making the same mistake over again.
If the international community sincerely seeks a peaceful solution, the only thing that will help –both sides – is the eradication of Hamas. It is naïve to think otherwise. (And if the West thinks that if Israel does it, it will be too bloody, then the West is more than welcome to do it as cleanly as it can.) A ceasefire would be great, but not at any price.