Friedman: Here's Why Hamas Attacked Israel Now (And Why the Gaza Occupation Is a Trap)

2023-10-16 21:23:52Kosova&Bota SHKRUAR NGA REDAKSIA VOX
Thomas Friedman

Thomas Friedman, columnist, 3-time Pulitzer Prize winner has given an interview to the New York Times. According to him, Hamas launched this attack to provoke a strong reaction and to undermine the agreements between Israel, the Saudis and other Arab countries. But according to him, the leadership of the Jewish state will have to accept its responsibilities.

"I am convinced that the main reason why Hamas launched this attack now, while also ordering it to be as lethal as possible, was to provoke an overreaction from Israel, such as the occupation of the Gaza Strip, which would cause thousands of civilian casualties among Palestinians. This in turn would force Saudi Arabia to withdraw from negotiations with Israel under the auspices of the United States. Just as it would force the countries that signed the Abraham Accords, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco, to take a step back," he says.

Friedman has seen it all in the Middle East and has been dealing with these stories for nearly 50 years. This time he was not present in the region when the Hamas "rage" began in the attack last Saturday and when the militias, according to him, "gathered men, women and children and shot them on sight". Something similar, he says on the phone from San Francisco: "I had only seen it in 1982 in Sabra and Shatila, when Christian militias massacred hundreds of Palestinian refugees, women, children and the elderly. The first victim I saw was an old man with a white beard with a bullet hole in his temple."

The prevailing sentiment in Israel is that Hamas must be destroyed as a military force and Gaza demilitarized. This means only one thing for the Israeli army: to go in, engage in a bloody battle and possibly occupy Gaza. You're suggesting that it shouldn't, precisely because that's what Hamas wants?

"Yes, this is what Hamas and Iran, the country that sponsors them, want. The "number 1" rule for them is that Israel remains in the West Bank and now possibly in Northern Gaza, so that its forces are forever seen as "excessive", leading to constant tension between Israelis and Palestinians. This will make it impossible for Arab countries to normalize relations with the Jewish state."

But is there any alternative to giving up entry to Gaza?

"I honestly don't know. I'm just saying that it's one thing to go into Gaza and destroy Hamas, objectives certainly within the reach of the Israeli military, but at a high cost in terms of civilian casualties. And it's another thing what the power structure that replaces it will be. There is only one thing worse than Hamas controlling Gaza and that is no one controlling Gaza or Israel controlling Gaza. There are those who propose that the Saudis, the Emirates, an Arab peacekeeping force do this. But on which planet do they live? Do they really think Israel would entrust Gaza to a Saudi or inter-Arab force? That is why I say to the Israelites, before you go into it, show me the plan. Otherwise, be careful: Do not enter Gaza before you have a clear and precise idea of ??how you will get out.”

It is clear, as former US Middle East envoy Dennis Ross said, that "Hamas cannot be a partner for peace." But who could it be?

"Again, I don't know. Hamas control of Gaza is a big problem. There is no obvious solution except to live with the worst possible scenario."

And which one would it be?

"Secure the borders, so that Hamas can no longer repeat what it did on Saturday, and above all, so that it can no longer receive military supplies. But do you realize that they were able to build an entire arsenal of rockets without Israel's security apparatus realizing it?"

How can the United States and Western countries help Israel, beyond standing and supporting it, while defending its right to defend itself?

"This was the greatest loss of Jewish life in a single day since the Holocaust. And we must ensure that Israel has all the military means necessary to defend itself. But we must also help Israel ask the right questions. For example: What does my worst enemy want me to do and how can I do the opposite? Hamas and Iran want Israel to enter Gaza and slow down negotiations to normalize relations with Riyadh, a deal in which Israel must engage and make real concessions to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

But the Palestinian Authority is a ghost, it has no influence...

"Not for this Palestinian Authority obviously... They are corrupt and led by a gentleman over 80 years old who has not won an election for 20 years, but for a reformed Palestinian Authority. It is the only long-term plan that is likely to work. We need the best Israelis governing Israel and the best Palestinians governing their area. Unfortunately, we are experiencing the worst from both sides."

Do you think that even Netanyahu is not long like what happened to Golda Meir after "Yom Kippur"?

"I hope that when this crisis is over, there will be elections and the Israelis will remove it forever, forever and ever. If one day they set up a commission of inquiry, Netanyahu and Yariv Levin, the Minister of Justice, will have to account, and if it were up to me there would be no need for anyone else. They deceived Israel before the attack."

There are many who say that the two-state solution, envisaged by the Oslo accords, has come to an end. Do you agree?

"Someone tell me a better solution. I haven't seen it yet. If these peoples cannot live next to each other in two states, how can they be expected to do so in only one state?". / Corriere della Sera