Peace not by numbers alone

“Long-term security for Israelis and Palestinians alike hinges not on military might alone but on achieving a political solution that addresses the underlying grievances and aspirations of both peoples.
Peace not by numbers alone

Over the weekend, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), in collaboration with the Shin Bet security agency and the Israeli police, executed a highly intricate and perilous mission deep within the Gaza Strip.

The operation, codenamed “Arnon,” successfully rescued four Israeli hostages held by Hamas, namely, Noa Argamani, Almog Meir Jan, Andrey Kozlov and Shlomi Ziv. As the dust settled, the mission evoked memories of the storied Operation Entebbe, where Israeli commandos heroically freed hostages taken from a hijacked plane and held in an airport in Entebbe, Uganda in 1976.

Yet, the narrative of triumph is marred by the stark reality of a high human cost — reportedly more than 200 Palestinian lives lost during the raid, with an Israeli official admitting to only half that figure.

“Operation Arnon” stands out not only for its successful outcome but also for the sheer complexity and precision required. Weeks of meticulous planning and intelligence gathering culminated in this high-stakes rescue.

The hostages were being held in two separate buildings within Nuseirat, a densely populated area of Gaza not penetrated by Israeli ground forces during the ongoing conflict. The strategic foresight involved feints in other areas of Gaza to divert Hamas’s defenses, thereby allowing the rescue teams to strike with the element of surprise.

In the days preceding the rescue, the IDF’s elite Yamam counter-terrorism unit rehearsed various extraction scenarios, ensuring readiness for every possible contingency.

The decision to conduct the raid in broad daylight, a rare choice given the typical preference for nocturnal operations, further underscored the urgency and calculated risks undertaken.

While the successful extraction of the hostages is a testament to the skill and bravery of the Israeli forces, the operation was not without severe consequences.

The mission’s climax saw intense gunfire and heavy artillery strikes aimed at neutralizing Hamas operatives and ensuring the safety of the rescue teams and hostages. Tragically, these confrontations also resulted in significant civilian casualties.

Indeed, the IDF acknowledged the unfortunate loss of Palestinian civilian lives during the crossfire, with estimates of the dead ranging from under 100 to over 200, according to various reports.

Israel’s inherent right to rescue its citizens from terrorist captivity is unequivocal. The imperative to save lives, especially those subjected to the harrowing ordeal of hostage-taking, is a fundamental aspect of national duty and sovereignty.

However, the stark reality is that such operations inevitably bring about collateral damage, especially in a conflict zone as densely populated and volatile as Gaza.

Thus, the balance between exercising the right to self-defense and mitigating civilian casualties remains a contentious and delicate issue. The IDF’s operational constraints, dictated by the necessity to protect its personnel and hostages, often clash with the humanitarian imperative to minimize harm to non-combatants. This tension is starkly illustrated in the aftermath of Operation Arnon.

As the Israeli and Palestinian communities grapple with the immediate aftermath of the daring raid, the broader implications for the ongoing conflict loom large. The cyclical nature of violence — provocation, retaliation, and collateral damage — continues to wreak havoc on both sides, perpetuating a cycle of suffering and resentment.

To break this cycle, there is an urgent need for renewed efforts towards sustainable peace. The international community must intensify its diplomatic initiatives, pressing both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to return to the negotiating table.

Long-term security for Israelis and Palestinians alike hinges not on military might alone but on achieving a political solution that addresses the underlying grievances and aspirations of both peoples.

While the courage displayed in Operation Arnon roused national pride in the Jewish state, there is an urgent need for introspection and a recommitment to peace. The ultimate victory will not be measured by the number of hostages rescued or the tactical successes achieved but by the establishment of a lasting peace that will spare future generations from the ravages of this seemingly interminable conflict.

Only through mutual understanding, compromise, and a concerted effort to rebuild can the wounds of both communities begin to heal.

Daily Tribune