It was called Amud Anan, Pillar of Defense, a mobilization in November of 2012 that frightened Hamas into accepting a peace agreement brokered by Egyptian President Morsi. Once finalized, Hamas of course wasted no time crowing about their great victory.
Morsi was deposed in July of the following year in another spasm of Egyptian revolutionary roulette, which set the clock ticking until the deal would be obsoleted one way or another.
During that time, those of us with our heads screwed on straight said that they would only use the opportunity to regroup and rearm. We, the same fools on the lunatic fringe who said that Gaza would become a launch pad for rocket attacks into Israel after the Disengagement. We who are cursed with the terminal illnesses of common sense and historical perspective.
But Netanyahu had secured peacefulness – if not peace – for the Southern region, at least temporarily, and our children could play outside with only the specter of a threat looming on the barbed wire and concrete horizon, mere kilometers away. So it was worth it. While it lasted.
And rearm they did, with a fervor befitting their ideology, with new, longer range rockets. More tunnels. More smuggled weapons. All the while being fed millions of tons of goods and supplies, courtesy of Israel. Because noblese oblige after all.
Then, in June, three boys went missing. Fearing another scenario where our children would be at the mercy of their abductors, the IDF flew into action, searching house to house throughout Hevron, arresting scores of people who had been released under the terms of the previous cease fire. And this nation held its collective breath for nearly three weeks in hopeful anticipation of their safe return. Until searchers came across their defiled bodies in caves by the side of the road, dumped in shallow graves. We went from shock to grief to furious anger. We had all been pushed further than we’d ever been pushed before. And some of us simply snapped.
Which was smoothly co-opted into a just cause and provocation that led to days of violent rioting in Northern Jerusalem. And on July 8, 2014, Hamas launched a salvo of rockets into Israel with orgiastic delight. After all, it’s only a few rockets. Right guys? Guys? To their surprise, however, our response was quite different than they expected.
Fear, shock, horror, pain, grief, rage, dismay. It was too much for our national psyche to bear. The gloves came off. Brigades of troops were mobilized. The Iron Dome was set to defend our cities. And the IAF began sorties to weaken Hamas’ infrastructure. Again.
This time, Tel Aviv was targeted with dozens of rockets. Rockets reached Haifa and Jerusalem. Ashdod and Ashkelon were pummeled ceaselessly. Shaar Hanegev, Beit Shemesh… honestly, the list is depressingly long. And we conduct ourselves on the battlefield comically, as if it were still the eighteenth century, while we face an amoral enemy horde who chants and sings and howls for our nation’s utter and complete destruction. Because our every action is scrutinized through the lens of a maddening double standard. You are Jews, we are rebuked, and therefore must do as we say, not as we do.
It was gratifying to see the overwhelming uniformity of response by our nation. To be sure, extremists on the right would be satisfied with nothing less than total annihilation, just as the extremists on the left would be satisfied with nothing less than total capitulation. But in what can be described as a “disproportionate response” from almost everyone else, the message was clear: Hamas needed its reign of terror over Gaza and over Israel to be ended, quickly and violently. That was the government’s mandate. That was the will of the people.