I’m going to make this short, because it really is simple.
After Hamas is completely extirpated from Gaza, militarily and politically, and its leadership wiped out, then what?
The Biden Administration wants to see the Palestinian Authority put in control, which, they think, will finally enable the two-state solution they have been trying to impose since the 1970s. Israel cannot allow this.
The PA, dominated by the terrorist organization Fatah, is no more prepared to suffer a Jewish state next door than Hamas. The only thing that prevents PA Arabs from doing precisely the same thing that Hamas did on 7 October is the day in, day out activity of the Shabak and the IDF to arrest or kill terrorists and interrupt their plans.
If you don’t believe this, look at what the PA says in its own media. But even if this weren’t true, and the PA actually was a “moderate” institution interested in peaceful development of a Palestinian state, what prevents it from being taken over by extremists? After all, this is precisely what happened in Gaza after Israel withdrew its soldiers, expelled its civilians by force, and even exhumed its dead from Gazan cemeteries in 2005 (think about why this last step was necessary).
As long as there is Palestinian sovereignty in Gaza, there is no doubt that it will develop into a base for terrorism. Those residents of the Western Negev that survived the pogrom of 7 October will not return. In effect Israel will cede a large part of her country to her enemies.
Another suggestion is that there should be some kind of international control of the area. It’s hard not to burst out laughing at this idea, when one considers the history of such arrangements, like the UN force in Lebanon that stood by and watched after the 2006 Second Lebanon War, as Iran built Hezbollah into a existential threat to Israel with 130,000 rockets aimed at every inch of the country.
Only Israeli control of Gaza can guarantee the safety of the Western Negev, and ensure that the next war – which is certainly coming – will not have a southern front.
Possibly civil control can be rested in the Arab clans that are powerful in the various areas of the Gaza Strip; but there will be no alternative to an IDF presence to provide overall security and prevent an extremist takeover. The only other alternative is forced emigration of a large part of the population and military occupation of the territory.
What is true of Gaza is also true of Judea and Samaria. Palestinian sovereignty there would lead to a terrorist base a few kilometers from the population centers of Israel. This has happened consistently whenever Israel has withdrawn from territory she controlled and international guarantees have never made any difference. The topography of the region is such that Israel cannot be defended against attack from a Palestinian state there or from the east if she does not control the high ground of Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley.
This isn’t controversial from a strategic point of view, though the Palestinians and their supporters find it unpalatable. But it cannot be Israel’s problem that the Arab leadership embraced, and never renounced, a fundamentally antisemitic position that rejects any Jewish state between the river and the sea. If they had the power that Israel has, they would kill or banish every last Jew, as happened in numerous Arab countries after 1948. We are (possibly wrongly) more tolerant. But we won’t tolerate being murdered.
Israel has several difficult tasks ahead of her, a consequence of the failure to see and understand reality in the Middle East that led to the Oslo Accords, the withdrawal from Gaza, and other strategic mistakes. In order of immediacy, they are: to eliminate Hamas and take control of the Gaza Strip; to remove the military threat posed by Hezbollah; to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons; and to establish permanent Israeli sovereignty in Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley.
None of these are easy – maybe Gaza is actually the easiest – from a military and especially a political/diplomatic standpoint. But they are essential to the survival of the Jewish state, and therefore – as events in the diaspora are teaching us – to the Jewish people.