Why do we need world support to justify a just war? Does a 13-year-old boy from a community near Gaza, born into a routine of warning sirens and "15 seconds to get to the nearest bomb shelter," need to celebrate his bar mitzvah in a fortified hall or look for a place beyond the range of the rocket fire to celebrate the occasion?
Who determined that terror can't be defeated with force?
There is no dissension, no political division regarding the rights of one million southern residents to live a normal life. The consensus exists in the understanding, as well as in the internalization that Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip don't recognize our right to continue living in the State of Israel and to continue building it.
In contrast with the deterrence we built against Egypt, Syria and Jordan through the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War, it seems quite clear we haven't learned how to create continuing deterrence against the terrorist organizations in Gaza.
Over the past decade we tried every possible way to talk with the various terrorist groups: through Egyptian and Saudi mediators, through flattery and even European donations. We've tried opening border crossings for the hundreds of trucks that bring goods into Gaza daily. We've tried military operations that have always ended too soon due to "rising oil prices" in the West or because of our own politicians' desire to notch any sort of achievement, just as long as no mistakes are made that can be held against them later.
We must admit it: We've failed. We haven't managed to stop the terrorist attacks along the Gaza and Sinai border fences, and we haven't been able to prevent rocket and mortar fire at Israel. As opposed to the successful campaign to recruit the world against Iran's nuclear program, we've failed to consolidate a worldview against Palestinian terror.
The West, which has never found much interest in the Palestinians or the Arab world, which doesn't want to take any interest in them, have left this hornets’ nest for us to deal with, along with a plethora of advice about what we are not allowed to do. We don't have many options left. We can, of course, continue fortifying ourselves to death under layer upon layer of concrete and arming ourselves with more Iron Dome batteries, but this would be a type of admission that we are continuing to rely on luck.
The time has come to deal with the shooters, not run for shelter. The new Middle East, with all its revolutions and vicissitudes, creates the possibility for a power vacuum allowing refugees, minorities and terrorist organizations to forge a plot of land for themselves. Hamas and the other terrorist groups have already understood this and have settled the Sinai Peninsula and opened another front against Israel. If today we don't stop Hamas from growing in strength in Gaza and prevent it from becoming a vast terrorist army, then in the future we will need to pay a heavier price of war in Gaza, Sinai and maybe even in Judea and Samaria.
The Israeli homefront will continue to be strong, but only on the condition that it knows there is someone willing to subdue the enemy. Those who have forgotten the way the north was abandoned before Operation Accountability (July 25-31, 1993) or the "exodus" from Gush Dan during the Persian Gulf War in 1991 could one day soon find Israel's southern residents sleeping in public parks in Tel Aviv or tent camps built by tycoons like Arkady Gaydamak.
The writer is an IDF brigadier-general (res.) and former chief of staff GOC Southern Commnand.