A Palestinian man carries the lifeless body of his son killed in an Israeli raid. (Photo: Mohammed Saber / EPA)
With multiple diplomatic efforts to stop the violence in Gaza urgently under way, Hamas could greatly speed and aid those efforts by ceasing the rocket attacks on Israeli towns. The international community has long sought reform of Israeli military and social policy towards Palestinian lands. While it is true that some Israelis are resistant to any reform that would empower Palestinian residents, such reform would become inexorable absent deliberate provocation of Israel's military wrath.
There is a false and misguided notion that the rocket attacks or other random acts of violence are not really that significant to Israeli citizens. Nothing could be farther from the truth. These attacks, all attacks, on Israeli targets, both military and civilian, are viewed by the Israelis in the most serious light.
Israel must understand that its Arab neighbors see Israel as a clear and present danger to their way of life. They fight for that reason, not for any abstract hatred of Judaism. Israel must find a way to be seen as less threatening to the region. Israelis have failed utterly to become a part of the fabric of life in the Mideast. Without such a coming to terms with the place in which it lives, Israel can never realize permanence.
Militarists, all militarists, take great comfort in the covenant of "peace through strength." The time has come for a realization that peace can also lead to strength. Hamas, like their right-wing Israeli counterparts, see armed conflict as holding a promise of a better future. Both groups fail their communities by holding fast to this false and failed notion.
Hamas has long ascribed to a strategy of actions that would assure Israeli military action. The firing of rockets into southern Israel guarantees a large-scale military response. This empowers right-wing Israelis, and weakens all those who would pursue diplomatic or social solutions.
Every diplomat who has ever tried to achieve lasting peace in the Israeli-Palestinian theater has ultimately been forced to confront the realization that their best efforts can be undone by small violent groups, who take actions that cannot be ignored.
Hamas, in fact, does have the popular support of the Palestinian people. Even more so now. Will Hamas continue to provoke Israeli military reprisal to further elevate its status with Palestinian residents? Will Israel's right wing continue to choose war over peace as it clings to political power?
Hamas's current strategy of firing rockets into southern Israel is not just "fighting back" against an oppressor; it is a step that Hamas knew full well would provoke a major Israeli military response. This plays in turn to the interests of the Israeli right wing.
Israel can be moved to a cease-fire, but never with Hamas rockets incoming.