Middle East turmoil

Israeli troops and tanks have invaded Gaza, the coastal strip of land south of their country, inhabited almost entirely by Muslim Arabs who speak the same colloquial Arabic as the Egyptian residents of the Sinai.

From the tone of some of the news coverage, one might get the impression Israeli generals and politicians occasionally wake up in the morning and -- motivated by little more than boredom -- say, "Hey, the weather's nice. What say we invade a neighboring Arab state and kill some people?"

In fact, the Israelis voluntarily withdrew from Gaza more than three years ago.

Many had hoped Arab leaders there would thereafter devote their energies and capital to building schools and hospitals, and especially to developing nonviolent civilian employment.

Instead, the Arabs effectively turned northern Gaza into a launching pad for missiles and mortar strikes into Israel.

On Feb. 27, 2008, for example, about 50 Quassam rockets were fired toward the Negev, one striking a parking lot near Sapir Academic College, where it killed 47-year-old Israeli student Ron Yahye.

A cease-fire was agreed upon by both sides to begin on June 19, 2008. Israelis can be forgiven if they barely noticed.

On Dec. 3, for instance -- still during this supposed "cease-fire" -- at least four Quassam rockets and 15 mortar rounds were fired from the Gaza Strip at the western Negev. Islamic Jihad's Al-Quds Brigades claimed responsibility. Ironically, one mortar attack on that date damaged an Israeli cable being used to transfer electricity to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

According to news reports, on Dec. 17 a Qassam rocket struck the parking lot of a shopping center in Sderot, injuring three Israelis. That was the day before Hamas declared an end to its six-month "truce" with Israel.

That shelling continued Dec. 26, Dec. 27 and Dec. 29. Several Israeli civilians died.

Try to imagine how long the United States would tolerate such deadly attacks on American civilians across one of our own borders before responding in force.

So, once again, Israeli tanks roll.

This, of course, is just what Hamas seems to want. Now they can again stage the well-planned photo opportunities they crave. In London, Muslim Arabs block streets to protest Israeli "aggression." In France, Muslim Arabs once again riot and burn things.

On Dec. 27, Egyptian border police fired on Palestinians fleeing across Gaza's western border, the Christian Science Monitor reported. Neither the Arabs nor their allies at the United Nations sought to condemn that "humanitarian violation." In Gaza itself, Hamas officials called this weekend for their brethren to rise up against Israel with suicide attacks, turning Gaza into "a graveyard" for Israel soldiers.

But why? Why do these Arabs want Gaza to become "a graveyard" for anyone? What kind of people engage in a long and consistent course of action which can only result in the deaths of civilians -- including their own children? Indeed, suffering is the only possible outcome when Hamas stages attacks from and stores munitions inside mosques and schools where frightened families seek refuge. This collateral-damage strategy led to the deaths of at least 40 Palestinians at a United Nations-run academy Tuesday when Israel responded to mortar fire outside the campus.

Is there any way off this merry-go-round of death? Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, thinks there is. Mr. Pipes argues the Arab "Palestinian state" which the United States has been promoting since the 1993 Oslo Accords has become a "complete Palestinian failure ... a toxic brew of anarchy, ideological extremism, antisemitism, jihadism and warlordism."

This leaves "only one practical approach, that which worked tolerably well in the period 1948-67," he argues. "Shared Jordanian-Egyptian rule: Amman rules the West Bank and Cairo runs Gaza."

A Jordanian Palestinian recently agreed, telling The New York Times' Hassan M. Fattah: "Everything has been ruined for us -- we've been fighting for 60 years and nothing is left. It would be better if Jordan ran things in Palestine, if King Abdullah could take control of the West Bank."

If Palestinian Arabs continued to launch freelance attacks on Israel while under Jordanian or Egyptian jurisdiction, that would become an internal police matter for those states, which no longer seem to yearn for another war with Israel. If the Palestinian Arabs dislike Israeli occupation -- and are unable to join the ranks of the peaceful nations of the Earth -- perhaps they would prefer to live under the rule of their Arab brethren.