I spent hours this week trying to convince my main Hamas contact to speak to his leaders to call for an immediate, unconditional, 24-hour ceasefire in order to stop the escalation.
My message made it all the way up to Khaled Mashal, Hamas’s leader. I wanted to help prevent the inevitable deaths of innocent people and the destruction that this war would cause.
I tried to impress upon him the seriousness of Israel’s preparations for a ground attack, including the fact that it has called up 40,000 reserve soldiers. I tried to appeal to his sensibilities regarding the unnecessary deaths of so many innocent people. I am quite sure, having known him for eight years, that he agreed with me.
The Hamas leadership decided to ignore the possibility of a ceasefire and instead challenged Israel to “bring on” the battle. These irresponsible leaders are criminals to their own people.
I can honestly say that Benjamin Netanyahu did not want to escalate this war. It is so unfortunate that Hamas leaders, some sitting in hotels abroad and others safely hiding underground in Gaza, put the innocent people of Gaza in the direct line of fire.
Force alone will never be a proper response to human suffering. Israel had to respond with force, I am sorry to say, but Israel must also present a plan for addressing the real and urgent human needs of the 1.7 million people in Gaza, or this ongoing war will never end.
To all of my Palestinian friends and others on the left: Instead of empty words, how about explaining what you would do if you were Israeli prime minister facing hundreds of rockets falling down on your citizens? Would you surrender to Hamas and say, please shoot us, it’s ok, we understand your anger? Is that what you would do?
Get real! How about proposing something constructive? That is what I have tried to do. Where is your constructive and logical contribution to the discussion? I don’t need to hear empty condemnations with no positive suggestions.
To all the right-wing people who have nothing constructive to say: Your criticisms and words of hate do not help anyone and are not welcome.
I am tired of these conversations of hate. Say something constructive.
Gershon is an advisor to Israeli, Palestinian and International Prime Ministers on the Middle East Peace Process and the founder and director of IPCRI, the Israeli-Palestinian Public Policy Institute. He was the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel between Israel and Hamas for the release of 1,027 prisoners – mainly Palestinians and Arab-Israelis of which 280 were sentenced to life in prison for planning and perpetrating various attacks against Jewish targets that resulted in the killing of 569 Israelis in exchange for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit. Gershon is actively involved in research and advocacy concerning topics such as social policy, environmental security, political strategy, peace education, economics, culture and in the development of affordable solar projects with the goal of providing clean electricity for 50 million people by 2020.