Are you ready to throw your head back and scream to the high heavens? Just read Gershon Baskin’s column in today’s J Post, in which he reveals that prior to Israel’s attack on Gaza, he met with a senior Hamas official in Europe to discuss possibilities for renewing the cease-fire. He returned to Israel ten days before Israel began the war and sent a letter to Olmert, Barak and Livni, informing them…

…that Hamas was willing to open a direct secret back channel for a package deal that would include the renewal of the cease-fire, the ending of the economic siege and the prisoner exchange for the release of (Gilad) Schalit. I further indicated that Hamas would be willing to implement the agreement on Rafah which included the stationing of Palestinian Authority personnel loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas in Rafah and a return of the European monitors. I communicated the same message to (Gilad’s father) Noam Schalit and asked him to make sure that Ofer Dekel, who is charged with the Schalit file by the government, received the Hamas “offer.”

Olmert, et al chose to ignore this opportunity, preferring instead to “teach Hamas a lesson.”
Baskin’s final conclusions:

What did this war achieve? What has changed? Has Israel gained its military deterrence? Has Israel changed the security reality in the South? Is Gilad Schalit at home? Has Hamas reduced its basic demands for the release of Schalit? No, no and no! Israel is negotiating now for exactly what could have been achieved without going to war. Israel spent $1 billion on the war, caused some $2 billion worth of damage in Gaza, more than 1000 people have been killed, thousands of lives have been destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis lived through weeks of terror; millions of Palestinians suffered the bombardment of their towns, cities and refugee camps – what is the result? More hatred, more extremism and more support for fanatics and their ideas – on both sides of the Gaza border.

Read the whole article and weep…