Civilian deaths suck, but there is a lot to be said for putting a price on violence

After a lot of concern over the recent escalation of violence in Gaza, Hamas have decided that the threat of another large-scale Gaza incursion was too high a price to pay for keeping-up the “resistance” and so have decided to stop attacks on Israel, so that they can concentrate on rebuilding.

Hamas urges militant groups to stop attacking Israel | Reuters.

“We began contacts with factions over the situation in the field. Hamas seeks to control the situation on the ground and urge factions to recommit to the national agreement,” Hamas official Ayman Taha said.

Several Hamas leaders have said a new Gaza war would inflict heavy casualties on Israel, but they also have spoken of a willingness for a reciprocal truce to facilitate the rebuilding of homes and infrastructure destroyed in the 2009 conflict.

This is coming as a direct result of Israel’s “deterrence” policy – where they respond “disproportionately” to any violence. There is a whole argument there about what level of reprisal is justified – is it “eye-for-an-eye” proportionality, is it “any means necessary” to protect the citizenry or is it somewhere in the middle? Whatever your stance, no one can deny that it has worked here.

Could this finally show that Hamas is moving from “resistance at any cost” to some kind of pragmatism, where they realise that their people not dying is preferable to maintaining some kind of symbolic attacks on Israel with little practical effect? They have known all along that in order to prevent their citizens from being killed, all they had to do was not attack Israel.

It does look like they may even have the right idea:

Maan News Agency: Haniyeh announces plan to rebuild Gaza.

Haniyeh said his government had the funds to reconstruct everything that was destroyed by Israel during its offensive on the coastal enclave in December 2008.

I’m going to be a cautious optimist on this one. If Hamas is serious about this, it will be the first time ever that the entire Palestinian leadership have actually made a formal commitment not to attack Israel, which is a huge breakthrough. When there is no violence going on, life improves for everyone. There won’t be a breakthrough tomorrow, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.

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