The group of reservist paratroopers returned all astir: Hamas fought like an army. The comrades of Sergeant-Major (Res.) Ehud Efrati, who fell in a battle in Gaza about two weeks ago, told Amos Harel that “in all parameters, we are facing an army, not gangs.” The soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces were impressed by their enemy’s night vision equipment, the tactical space they kept between one another – and their pants even had elastic bands to make them fit snugly around their boots. This is good news from Gaza.
First, it is good that reservists were sent on this mission because “if these missions were left to the regular soldiers, no one on the home front would understand what’s happening in Gaza,” one of them said. Indeed, the time has come for the soldiers to speak out. But the news the soldiers brought is also encouraging on several other levels. According to their descriptions, a Palestinian Defense Force has emerged. Instead of a rabble of armed gangs, an orderly army is coalescing that is prepared to defend its land. If it makes do with a defensive deployment against Israeli incursions, we will again have no moral claim against them: Hamas is entitled to defend Gaza, just as the IDF is entitled to defend Israel.
The coalescence of an army also ensures that if Israel tries to reach an accord with the Hamas government – the one and only way to stop the firing of Qassams – there will be someone in Gaza to prevent the firing. An armed and organized address in the chaos of Gaza also means good news for Israel. But the respect the reservists felt for the way Hamas fought is liable to trickle down deeper. “The Palestinians never looked like this,” the surprised soldiers told Haaretz. Perhaps we will finally stop calling them “terrorists” and refer to them as “fighters.” A bit of respect for the Palestinians and, in particular, an end to our dehumanization of them is liable to mark the beginning of a new chapter. [complete article]