By Gideon Levy
Contributed by Lucia
"......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.
Furthermore, the fact an army has arisen in Gaza, if this assessment is correct, is liable to prevent another large-scale, ground-based military operation with its many casualties and futility. Perhaps the reservists' reports will dissuade the defense minister from carrying out his plan to conquer Gaza and will motivate Israel to try, for the first time, a different approach with Hamas - negotiations. Only the recognition of Hamas' strength is liable to persuade Israel to be cautious about another operation, and only its military buildup will make us understand the full stupidity of the boycott policy that was designed to weaken Hamas.
We have always acted this way. Without violent Palestinian resistance, life in occupying Israel is great and no one pays any attention to the need to end the occupation. No resistance - no Palestinians. No terrorism - no progress. If not for the Qassams, no one would give any thought to life in Gaza after the disengagement. Ours is a country that has been ready to make concessions only after blood is spilled. Since the interim accords following the Yom Kippur War and through the withdrawal from Lebanon and the disengagement, Israel has needed a relatively strong enemy to get its act together. If not for Hezbollah, we would still be in Lebanon; if not for Hamas, we would still be in Gaza......."