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  • Mark Lavie

How to end the Gaza war now

Picture this:

An American aircraft carrier group anchors off the coast of Qatar. The US government instructs Qatar to hand over all the Hamas leaders it’s harboring—or else. Once that is done, the US government instructs Hamas leaders in Gaza to release all the Israeli hostages immediately—including the dead, the two who just wandered into Gaza a few years ago, and the bodies of Israeli soldiers from a previous conflict—or else.

Now picture this:

An Israeli missile boat and several smaller warships anchor off the coast of Qatar. Israeli submarines make their presence known. The Israeli government instructs Qatar to hand over all the Hamas leaders it’s harboring—or else. Once that is done, the Israeli government instructs Hamas leaders in Gaza to release all the Israeli hostages immediately—including the dead, the two who just wandered into Gaza a few years ago, and the bodies of Israeli soldiers from a previous conflict—or else.

“Or else”? Use your imagination.

Now picture this:

An American aircraft carrier group and an Israeli missile boat accompanied by smaller warships anchor off the coast of Qatar. You know the rest.

Is this scenario absurd? Impossible? Unrealistic?

No, here’s what’s absurd, impossible, and unrealistic: High-level pilgrimages to Qatar to genuflect before the rulers of a nation that has bankrolled and encouraged a murderous Palestinian terrorist group, with the hope that the leaders of that murderous terrorist group will be reasonable.

Israel is at fault for letting Qatar finance the Hamas terrorist tunnel network, but it’s Hamas and its sponsors who are fully to blame for the massacre, rape, torture and mutilation of more than 1,200 Israelis and the kidnapping of more than 200 others last Oct. 7, as well as the damage and suffering that has followed Israel’s counterattack.

Testimony and evidence continue to pile up, documenting the atrocities committed by thousands of Hamas terrorists who crossed the border. There’s a 43-minute video, compiled from body cameras of the terrorists themselves, graphically and literally showing not only the atrocities but the joy with which they were perpetrated and the hero’s welcome the terrorists received back home in Gaza.

The video is available to the world, but not in Israel. The Israeli government, in one of its few correct steps since Oct. 7, decided that its people were traumatized enough without seeing the Hamas horrors on their own screens.

And those are the “partners” in “negotiations” to free the hostages? Really?

And while we’re at it—it’s puzzling why all the back-and-forth over a “deal” involves the freeing of only 40 hostages in return for a de facto end of the Israeli military operation against Hamas. The latest figures from the Israeli government show that Hamas is still holding 134 hostages, and 36 are known to be dead. That leaves 98 that might be alive. So why 40? Does Israel really want to go through this circus time and again?

So let’s get realistic.

Qatar is a peninsula that’s usually described as a thumb extending into the Persian Gulf. A better description would be a middle finger extending out to the world. Besides bankrolling Hamas, Qatar is also the home and sponsor of Al-Jazeera, the pan-Arab TV channel that spews hate, filth, and anti-Semitism all over the region, with no regard to minor qualities like truth. Al-Jazeera is partly responsible for the wildly anti-Israel response to the Hamas atrocities, though Hamas itself is not the most popular kid in the classroom.

The leaders of Hamas, many of whom started out in Gaza and fled to the riches of their “exile,” are kept in the luxurious style of visiting dignitaries, though their only actual accomplishments are killing Israelis and enslaving their own people.

There’s Ismail Haniyeh, who used to command Hamas from the Shati refugee camp on the Gaza beach before he left for more comfortable accommodations. Khaled Mashaal, considered the senior Hamas guy these days, was once the target of a botched Israeli assassination attempt. These two and the others keep the Qatar money flowing, plan terrorist attacks, and live the good life while their people back home in Gaza suffer—mostly because the many millions of dollars supplied by Qatar and others go underground for terrorist tunnels and above ground for rockets aimed at Israel instead of, say, basic infrastructure in Gaza.

So again, negotiate with Qatar and Hamas? You want ridiculous? There it is.

Qatar is about half the size of Israel, half the size of New Jersey. It is almost totally surrounded by water. A military operation to seal off Qatar would take a few hours, if that were even necessary. Qatar has a tiny military with about 12,000 soldiers, a few ships, and a handful of fighter aircraft. So this is a military no-contest, whichever of the three above scenarios is adopted.

So would Qatar comply with the demand to hand over the leaders of Hamas? Would the Arab world accept such an ultimatum? Would Russia and China? And most critically, would the US?

If we’re taking this seriously, we have to move to Plan 3, a joint US-Israel operation, with the tacit support or even acquiescence of the others. The US says it understands that there are good guys and bad guys in Israel’s fight. The bad guys are Hamas and Qatar. Qatar can put an end to this war by handing over the Hamas leaders.

What happens to those leaders once the hostages are released? There are several options ranging from summary execution to delivering them to the International Criminal Court. Likewise the Hamas leaders still in Gaza.

The larger question is—does the US want to restore its credibility as a power in the Mideast and the world? Or does it want to keep looking for painless ways out of crises involving its allies by turning on its allies?

There’s only one proper answer to that, and the way to implement it is outlined above.

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