On the border with Gaza, a PR nightmare is shaping up. ‘Protest tents’ are being moved closer and closer to the border. There is a threat of thousands mobbing the border at once, forcing us to make a terrible choice. We can either kill masses of people and deliver a PR victory to Hamas; or we can hold our fire and be invaded by those who want to slaughter us and grant a victory to Hamas.
Given only these choices, I prefer the first option. As Golda Meir famously said: “I prefer to stay alive and be criticized than be sympathized.” But shooting the invaders is not a good solution.
With the ‘March of Return’ Hamas appears to have orchestrated what appears to be an insoluble challenge. How can we possibly manage the ‘PR invasion’ so as to steal both victories from Hamas?
For me, the answer came suddenly, yesterday, when a massive thunderstorm struck the nation.
In the United States today, politics and the economy are often blamed on the weather. If it is cold and wet, retail and home sales fall and voting drops among the marginally interested. The weather, with its impersonal attitude, can change the future of that nation. But this is not a new phenomenon. In times past, the weather has decided the fate of entire civilizations. Rainstorms over battlefields have bent the course of world history on more than one occasion.
Yesterday’s rains might have dampened the efforts of Hamas, but it couldn’t bring them to a total halt. However, the effects of weather can be multiplied and utilized to our advantage.
Israel can accomplish this by churning up the earth on the border next to Hamas’ designated protest sites. We can soak it with water – the partially purified water we recycle for agricultural purposes. We can let them know the water is not potable. And we can create a muddy moat to block the access of those who would invade.
If Hamas sends thousands of sacrificial Gazans against the fence, we can let them cross. And then we can watch as the people come, fighting a steady barrage of mud augmented by water hoses. Those who are a risk, those with weapons or explosives, can be neutralized as they cross. And when the remaining sacrificial Gazans emerge from the moat, weighted down with mud and exhausted by the crossing, we can arrest them en masse and return them to Gaza.
Those who come first would give a visceral image to those who would follow them. The effort would obviously be pointless and dangerous and so the first few to cross would dissuade the rest.
Hamas has used ‘low-tech’ solutions to create problems for us. Flaming kites (less useful over soaked crops) and burning tires have provided challenges to our forces. But perhaps we can return the favor – a few low-tech solutions can make their invasion an impossibility.
In normal times, the rain is seen as a blessing: refreshing our land and watering our crops. Perhaps this sudden storm was also a blessing: providing a solution to a dilemma Hamas has attempted to impose on us.