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As long as there are criminal regimes with technological, military, and financial capabilities, defeating them militarily is the only route to lasting peace.
KYIV — The conflict in Israel that began after Hamas launched a major terrorist attack on Israeli soil on October 7 offers striking parallels with the situation in Ukraine. It is not directly comparable to the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops, but both conflicts were preceded by similar developments.
In Israel, a quasi-"Minsk-2" situation unfolded through the "unilateral disengagement plan." This plan resulted in 20 years of coexistence between Israel and the Gaza Strip under the rule of Hamas, with no Israeli presence. This situation painfully resembles Ukraine's coexistence with the Donetsk and Luhansk bandits from 2015 to 2022.
Both scenarios involved a low-intensity conflict, sporadic battles, a terrorist "proxy army" supported and armed by an enemy state, and attempts at pacification under international scrutiny.
In the early 2000s, then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a revered figure from the country’s past wars, implemented the unilateral disengagement plan. The goal was to secure the country and prevent terrorist infiltration by completely withdrawing from Gaza. In 2005, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) left Gaza, dismantling all Jewish settlements. A high-tech barrier, checkpoints, and round-the-clock military presence were established.
Hamas cemented its stronghold over the area.
However, in subsequent years, radical Hamas fundamentalists seized control of Gaza. This led to direct clashes with the more moderate Fatah organization, which controls the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) in the West Bank. The power shift in Gaza involved the expulsion or killing of PNA officials, as Hamas, backed by Iran, cemented its stronghold over the area.
This turn of events mirrors the periodic conflicts, purges, and leadership changes within the "Donetsk People's Republic" and "Luhansk People's Republic" (DPR-NPR), often with Russian assistance. The working methods of Moscow and Tehran's mafia-like regimes bear resemblances, and Hamas or the Lebanese group Hezbollah could be seen as more ideological – and more successful – counterparts to the Russian Wagner group.
Even after the removal of the Israeli presence, the government in Jerusalem continued to supply Gaza with essential resources like water, electricity, and fuel. Additionally, tens of thousands of work permits were issued for Gazans to work in Israel, providing financial support to the residents. Yet, the local population widely supported Hamas, the terrorist power in Gaza.
However, on October 7, it became evident that this approach had failed. An attempt to pacify the well-armed and well-funded terrorists, supported by the Iranian regime, proved unsuccessful. Hamas commanders, guided by their handlers in Tehran, had been planning the attack for years and seized the opportune moment during Israel's prolonged political crisis.
Israeli society is undergoing a familiar divide, reminiscent of the situation in Ukraine. The actions of Benjamin Netanyahu and his political allies, who are fervently trying to retain power, have stirred discontent. This has led to mass protests, with even IDF reservists joining in.
The internal conflict has consumed the government, opposition, and Israeli society, overshadowing the awareness of the geographical location and the neighbors with whom they share borders, an oversight reminiscent of Ukraine's in the 2000s.
Fighters of the Wagner Private Military Company raise a Russian flag over the city of Artyomovsk, Ukraine on May 20, 2023.
Of course, while this internal strife is an essential detail, it is not the root cause of the recent attack. The crucial issue lies in the impossibility of reaching an agreement with terrorists by conceding territory and power to them. No amount of advanced military technology, even a fortified fence equipped with cameras and sensors, can fully protect against individuals driven solely by the intent to cause harm.
Agreements and concessions, such as Minsk or the Gaza disengagement, are often viewed by terrorists and dictatorial regimes like those in Iran or Russia as temporary measures and leverage for their next attack. Terrorists must be defeated, even though the cost may involve lives. Freezing the conflict, however, is seen as an endless horror.
Another war is likely in a few years.
There's a consensus that if Israel halts the ground operation in Gaza without dismantling Hamas fighters and their infrastructure, another war is likely in a few years. The Israeli and global media are currently pondering the exit strategy from the ongoing conflict. Questions revolve around what to do with Gaza, whether to continue the operation, and, if so, how to proceed. Israel faces pressure from allies urging restraint in military activities.
This situation may resonate with Ukrainian citizens, given the restrictions on the use of Western weapons on Russian territory and limitations on operations. Kyiv and Jerusalem can likely understand each other in navigating the challenges of exit strategies and international pressure. It's plausible that Ukrainian authorities also field similar inquiries about their own exit strategy.
Negotiating with terrorists
The comprehensive answer to these challenges is clear: as long as there are mafia regimes with technological, military, and financial capabilities, defeating them militarily is the only route to lasting peace.
Relying on the presence of entities like Hamas or the DPR, with the Iranian or Russian army at the borders, is counterproductive if the goal is to achieve true security. Israel's success in attaining relatively durable peace with Egypt and Jordan in the 20th century came at the cost of territorial concessions, particularly in the case of Egypt relinquishing the Sinai Peninsula. However, the regimes of Egypt and Jordan at that time were relatively reasonable, providing a basis for negotiation. Several battlefield defeats also played a role in bringing them to the negotiating table.
Ultimately, the success of any negotiations hinges on the adequacy of the counterparties involved. Agreements with terrorists cannot engender peace; they invariably harbor hidden agendas. Both Israel and Ukraine, therefore, may find that a military victory is necessary for long-term peace.
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