The formula is simple. Yoav “Poli” Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, drafted it even before 2014’s Protective Edge. Every time the situation in Gaza gets worse, the countdown begins until the explosion. It’s simple. The question is whether we want to fix this situation and create a different reality, or continue from explosion to explosion, from escalation to escalation, from summer to summer, until one of the rockets will succeed in falling onto a kindergarten full of toddlers, and then everything will rise like a storm in the sky, and we will push to conquer Gaza without ever really wanting to (except for MK Bezalel Smotrich, of course).

The IDF carried out an impressive audiovisual show yesterday, backed by an impressive tweet from Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman: “Every place from which the terrorist organizations fire into Israeli territory is a legitimate target for the air force to attack.”

In freestyle translation: The IDF returned fire at the sources of the shooting. Do you remember this reaction from the old days? So that’s it. And it’s not even the army, because Liberman assigned it to the “air force.” In other words, there will be no ground operation, for the time being. This is the same Liberman that pushed during Protective Edge to conquer the Gaza Strip while criticizing the political and military leaders (Ya’alon, Netanyahu, and Gantz) on the meager results that came from the operation.

But it’s not just him. His boss, Benjamin Netanyahu, is the same one who stood at the gates of Ashkelon at the end of 2008-9’s Operation Cast Lead  and swore that with him there would be no such abandonment and that he would instruct the IDF to win, to uproot Hamas from Gaza, and put an end to terror. Now they are firing back at the sources of the shooting.

I assume that after this column goes down to the press, during the night, it will be the turn of the air force to respond to the response of Hamas and the Jihad since the afternoon, which followed Israel’s response before noon, etc. The familiar and tiring ping-pong,  predictable and depressing, that leads to a dead end at which no one benefits from. Even if Israel decides to invade Gaza, occupy the Strip and topple Hamas. And after that? Or, as Poli Mordechai asks, in his guttural Arabic, “Wabaadein?” “Is there a plan? To whom do we the give keys? What happens now? Who takes command? What should be done? What does Israel want from Gaza?”

At the end of Operation Protective Edge, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni prepared a draft proposal in the UN Security Council that regulates the situation in the short term and builds goals for the medium and long term. Not anything that will cost us, but yes something that could  break us out of this Catch 22 in which Israel and the Hamas are trapped. The Americans liked it, the Security Council was put on guard, that is, pressured Bibi, but the prime minister gave up on it. “What does he need it for? What will I get out of it?” he asked Livni, who tried to explain.

The question is, what will Bibi get out of the current situation? True, the destruction of Gaza has led to a few years of quiet, but anyone equipped with a pair of eyes and a bit of logic should know that it will eventually end. Each barrel has a bottom. The defense establishment, the IDF, and the Shin Bet all recommended and drafted a long list of proposals for changing the economic situation in Gaza, to make it easier for the population and provide Gazans with some hope and a horizon.

Minister Yisrael Katz’s artificial island has already dried up. The IDF goes so far as to recommend the removal of tens of thousands of workers from Gaza to work in the area of the Gaza perimeter, under strict security supervision, of course.The Shin Bet, which usually opposes such initiatives, supports it.The reason is simple: What prevented the last wave of “knife terror” in the West Bank from turning into an intifada is the fact that tens of thousands of workers leave their village in West Bank every day to work in Israel and that supports hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, a similar situation in Gaza can calm that sector as well. But I guess that we don’t really want to calm things down.

“What is the problem with helping the humanitarian situation in Gaza?” asks Tzipi Livni. “Why can’t Israel call upon the entire world to come to the aid of Gaza, to build an electric power plant, a sewage plant, and to ensure that we will also help? “There is so much to do, instead of waiting for the next round,” she says. And she is right.


This article was originally published in Hebrew in Ma’ariv.