The current scene in Gaza is a strong indication that the longer it takes to pull the trigger on a Rafah operation leading to the war’s end game, the more unnecessary suffering will be enabled by the West’s indecision. No matter President Biden’s intentions, he isn’t helping the people of Gaza.

The Wall Street Journal reports on the ever-descending-but-never-landing famine in the Strip: “Weeks after deadly strikes against World Central Kitchen aid workers spurred Israel into action, affordable vegetables and freshly baked bread are now available in northern Gaza for the first time in months. Israel in recent days has enabled more aid trucks to reach Gaza, has opened a crossing into the north directly from Israel and has approved more flour destined for the strip through its port of Ashdod.”

Sounds like they’re making real progress. Now that it’s clear that the problem isn’t Israel supposedly preventing food from getting into the Strip, the United Nations has adjusted the goalposts accordingly. “The problem is not just about food,” UN aid coordinator Andrea De Domenico told the Journal. “It’s much bigger than simply bringing in flour and baking loaves of bread or pita. It is much more complex.”

If you’re wondering why you can sense disappointment in De Domenico’s statement, it’s because we’ve passed the part of this crisis that can be plausibly blamed on Israel. You see, De Domenico isn’t exactly wrong that feeding Gazans is more complex than providing pita bread. In February, a riot around an arriving aid truck, followed by a hijacking by Hamas militants, killed more than a hundred Gazans. Hamas has also hired its own proxies to take deliveries, and it executes those who attempt to distribute food aid independent of Hamas. There is an extended inspection process for UN trucks because the UN’s Gaza agencies had become an arm of Hamas before and during the war.

Notice how often the word “Hamas” comes up? That’s because the weaker Hamas is, the more Palestinians eat. That’s not much of a surprise—Hamas has been starving the Strip for years by hoarding food and supplies and spending all infrastructure cash on Hamas-only tunnels underground. And because Hamas had so thoroughly coopted UNRWA, there was no international aid agency focused on helping the actual Palestinian civilians.

Rooting out Hamas has always been the only plausible humanitarian solution.

And it’s not just food. Yesterday, photos and videos emerged of Gazans flocking to the beach at Deir al-Balah to escape the heat. “After temperatures suddenly soared,” reports Al-Monitor, “children paddled in the sea and their friends played ball games on the sand around Deir el-Balah in the center of the coastal strip—but the war was never far away.”

No, the war wasn’t far away. But it’s not a war on fun in the sun; it’s a war on Hamas. Palestinians who aren’t being used as human shields by Hamas fighters in their midst have no fear of going out for a day at the beach. They know the IDF isn’t after them.

Al-Monitor calls it “a rare respite” for Gazans. So let’s make it less rare: Free the Palestinians from Hamas.

As the Times of Israel notes, Deir al-Balah is “some 10 kilometers south of an east-west corridor that is the only part of Gaza still actively occupied by Israeli troops.”

So in fact these Palestinians are protected by Israeli troops to their north. Khan Younis is about that distance to the south, but that city has come out the other side of an IDF incursion to sweep out Hamas cells. That east-west corridor, by the way, is a massive contribution to Palestinian security, and it raises the question of whether a heavier temporary wartime occupation would’ve had a better outcome for Palestinians across the Strip. Of course, the West would never stand for that, out of concern for…Palestinian security.

In any event, the Times of Israel says some Israelis are none too pleased by the beach scenes in Deir al-Balah because there are still more than a hundred hostages held by Hamas and the scenes show, they believe, a lack of pressure on Hamas. But the more important lesson is probably this: There is a post-Hamas future awaiting the Palestinians, and the hastening of that post-Hamas future should be a top priority for all interested parties to the conflict.

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