Speaking to Democracy Now! Gershon Baskin — the Israeli peace activist who assisted the process that led to Hamas’ release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit — offers his thoughts on the permanent truce deal he was working on with military leader Ahmed Jabari (who Aluf Benn writes was a “subcontractor, in charge of maintaining Israel’s security in Gaza”) before he was assassinated by the Israelis:
Now, my perspective on this was that Israel had to secure quiet. It is unacceptable for the civilian population in the south of Israel to be constantly under the threat of rocket fire from Gaza. There are several ways to achieve that quiet. One is to do what Israel is doing now: to assassinate people, to put two-and-a-half million people in—1.6 million people in Gaza under rocket fire, to put another million people in Israel under rocket fire. To kill a lot of people, to do a lot of damage, in the end will create some kind of deterrence and have quiet for a period of time. Or we could try what we’ve never tried before, and that’s engagement, dialogue and trying to reach some longer-term understandings. I don’t know if it would have worked. Honestly, I don’t know if Jabari would have held to the terms of the agreements or if the other factions would have given into that. My point was: Let’s try it. We’ve never done it before. Let’s try it. Maybe will have a dynamic of its own, which, instead of leading to more escalation, will actually bring about de-escalation and a possibility of having a new kind of relationship with Gaza.