How Rwanda Could Emerge <br>As the Peacekeeper <br>In the Gaza District
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
What to do about Gaza and Hamas? How can Israel avoid a war of attrition with Hamas endlessly firing rockets and Israel being forced to respond? Many Israelis want the Jewish state to reoccupy Gaza. The truth is that Israel should have never dismantled the Jewish communities there in the first place.
My children were some of the last to plant trees in Gush Katif on Tu B’Shvat, Jewish Arbor Day, in 2005. The Jewish communities in Gaza were a civilizing influence on a strip of land that would later succumb to the barbarism and tyranny of Hamas. I remember eating the luscious green peppers and apples that Jewish settlers grew right out of the sand dunes in Gaza green houses. What a change from the terror tunnels and murderous rockets which are the only exports of Gaza today.
But a military occupation without the support of local Jewish settlements would be challenging. And as for the idea of the Palestinian Authority taking control, forget it. Mahmoud Abbas has not stepped foot in Gaza for years, and it’s because he knows he’d be killed as fast as a Jew would be. He’s hated in Gaza and has zero influence. Hamas is his mortal enemy. As for the UN, Israel isn’t going to trust the peacekeepers of a hostile international body that spends most of its time condemning the Jewish state.
But there is one possibility: Rwanda.
Israel has a special relationship with Rwanda, as I have written on many occasions. Both Israel and Rwanda are nations that have experienced genocides. Both have unique security situations. Both take aggressive action against enemies on their borders to prevent another genocide. Both come under constant criticism from a do-nothing UN that has little sympathy for nations that have sworn never again to allow the slaughter of their citizens.
Israel’s genocidal enemies are Hezbollah, Hamas, and Iran, the first two of which are on their border. Rwanda’s Hamas is the FDLR, comprised those who perpetrated the 1994 genocide of the Tutsi and their ideological and biological descendants. President Kagame has been clear that he will not tolerate the terrorist incursions of the FDLR. He has taken aggressive action to fight them and has gone so far as to push to remove Congolese governments who grant sanctuary and safe harbor to the genocidaires. For all this he has come under massive UN criticism. He does not much care. He will quite simply never allow another genocide.
Israel too, under successive prime ministers, has made it clear it will not allow enemy regimes to infiltrate their borders with fighters, rockets, or tunnels. And we see how much condemnation has come Israel’s way. Which is why one of the only countries in the world that understands Israel and its security requirements is Rwanda. And it just so happens that Rwanda is one of the world’s largest contributors to UN peace-keeping missions.
Rwanda ranks sixth in the world in terms of contributing troop and police to UN’s peace-keeping forces. As of this writing, Rwanda fields more than 4,000 troops, more than 400 police, and 13 military observers to countries as varied as Darfur, South Sudan, Haiti, Liberia, Abyei, and Guinea-Bissau. Rwanda just added another 850 troops to the UN mission in Central African Republic due to the rapidly deteriorating situation on the ground.
With one of the strongest armies in Africa, Rwanda has the troops necessary to implement a mission in Gaza that goes beyond ineffectual peace-keeping and attempts to implement a demilitarization of Hamas.
President Kagame remembers more than anyone else does the abandonment of his people by UN peacekeepers under Kofi Annan in 1994. Even as the UN commander in Kigali, General Romeo Dallaire of Canada, pleaded with Kofi Annan for permission to disarm the Hutu Interahamwe militia, Mr. Annan ordered him not to intervene, thus abandoning nearly one million people to be hacked to death with machetes. The UN’s response to Mr. Annan’s dereliction was to promote him to Secretary General.
Mr. Kagame has never forgotten this.
When I was invited by President Kagame to speak in April at Amohoro National Stadium, where the 20th anniversary remembrance of the genocide was being marked, I watched as hundreds of performers reenacted the abandonment of Rwanda’s Tutsi by the United Nations, right in front of Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. The President did not fear if he offended the sensibilities of the United Nations. It allows Arab children in Syria to be gassed, Yazidis and Americans to be beheaded in Iraq, and Hamas to fire rockets from UN schools in Gaza.
It just might be that Israel would trust President Kagame with a UN peace-keeping force in the way that it would not, and should not, trust any other UN peace-keeping nation, with the exception of the US, which is not going to send troops.
Now why would President Kagame want to enter the quagmire of Gaza? First, Rwanda is Israel’s ally in every way. The President has a genuine attachment and affection for the Jewish state and may wish to help. Second, Rwandan troops in Gaza forcibly implementing the destruction of Hamas rockets and tunnels would help the world understand Rwanda’s similar challenge and the need to demilitarize the FDLR terrorists. Rwanda providing a solution to Hamas would stymie much of the unfair international criticism that Rwanda receives for battling the FDLR. Third, this tough task would help provide on-the-job training to Rwanda’s already formidable army in the tough task of demilitarizing a genocidal terrorist entity.
If Hamas resists and begins attacking Rwandan troops, then the whole world will finally see the truth: Hamas are hard-core killers with an unquenchable thirst for blood. They break every agreement they enter into. They have no “occupation” issue with Israel, which completely evacuated Gaza in 2005. Rather, they would be further exposed as an organization that glorifies death and must be stopped.
Rabbi Boteach is the founder of “This World: The Values Network.”