Gaza is a tragedy in three dimensions. Innocent people die. The stalemate on a West Bank agreement hardens. World attention is diverted from the crimes of the Assad regime in Syria and Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon. Any prospect of reversing these setbacks depends crucially on an appreciation of how we got to this dangerously untenable place.
There is not the slightest shadow of a doubt who is to blame. It is Hamas, the Islamist terrorist organization beholden to its paymasters in Tehran. Hamas is dedicated by its charter to the destruction of Israel. In April 1993, it gave the world the suicide bomber. Later that year, Yassir Arafat for the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Yitzhak Rabin for Israel signed the Oslo Accords, affording a measure of self-government to the Palestinian Authority, which was responsible for West Bank and Gaza. Hamas denounced the peace agreement. It stepped up its vile campaign of suicide bombing and the United States identified it as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. In 2005, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, in a typically bold move, ended military occupation of Gaza and the world applauded. The Palestinians, divided in allegiance between the more secular Fatah and ideological Islamists of Hamas, could not unite to make the best of their opportunity to create a viable state. Both sides murdered perceived enemies. Hamas built a better social network than a corrupt Fatah, but it was Hamas that sabotaged whatever slim chances there were that a united Gaza would flourish as an independent entity. In a symbolic rejection of a path to peace, its thugs wrecked the greenhouse businesses left by the reluctantly departing Israeli settlers.