As I reflect on the situation in Israel, I see a nation that is shocked and hurt from the Hamas attack of October 7. They have called up 300,000 reservists and are gearing up for an invasion of the Gaza Strip, a tiny piece of land with over 2 million people who have, for the most part, been without incoming supplies of food, water, and fuel since then.
Israel has the right to defend itself from attack, and indeed it has done so. But what will invading Gaza accomplish? Forget the geopolitical consequences for a moment. Most likely, it will buy them time, that’s all. The last major attack from Hamas was in 2014; maybe a military operation will buy another 10 years, more or less. But even with a “successful” military operation, hostages will be killed, soldiers will be killed, and many, many Palestinian civilians will be killed along with Hamas militants. All this for maybe a decade of relative peace? Is it worth it, even before we bring the geopolitical consequences back in, which will surely be significant?
Suppose Israel is successful and eliminates every last Hamas member. What then? There is no plan to occupy Gaza and transition it into a peaceful neighbor. And what did the United States earn from 20+ years of hunting terrorists and occupying Afghanistan and Iraq? That the next group that takes over is even worse than the group we removed. This is very likely what will happen in Gaza.
So while Israel may be able to claim some moral right to invade Gaza, I hope for their sake that they do not exercise it and instead commit themselves to getting the hostages back and working on a permanent and peaceful solution.