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GAZA - WHO WON & WHO LOST?

De facto demilitarization for foreign aid

Rocket fire from Gaza and IDF artillery (photo credit: IDF)

 Hamas declared total war on Israel, throwing all its game-changers into the fray - fifty days later, it has precious little to show for it. Although dealing some severe blows, Hamas has brought death and destruction for starting the latest round and then rejecting the first Egyptian ceasefire proposal six days into the war. Israel has not given in to the Hamas demand 'to lift the siege' and will not agree to negotiate a Hamas seaport and airport that would turn into expressways for Qatar and Iran to start shipping more rockets into Gaza. Moreover, Cairo and Jerusalem see eye to eye on the need to bar weapons to Gaza - in effect, a de facto demilitarization of Gaza. 

 This is Netanyahu's formula for linking international aid for the rebuilding of Gaza. The dust will settle in another month or so, when the negotiations reflect the true outcome of the flare-up, and Gazans will be severely disappointed over the outcome. However, the recent firing squads sent a harsh warning to any potential protestors as to what their fate would be.

  

Netanyahu is not about to make any meaningful concessions...he is already under fire from many Israelis...for not acting more forcefully to stop Hamas...

 Netanyahu is not about to make any meaningful concessions in those negotiations - he is already under fire from many of the Israeli residents along the border for not acting more forcefully to stop Hamas from firing dozens of rockets at them daily. In addition, his Right wing coalition partners Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennett would bring down the government if the PM offered any real concessions, which he won't. It speaks volumes that the Prime Minister accepted the latest ceasefire proposal without bringing it to a vote in the security cabinet.

  

 Will Hamas go on the warpath again when it fails to get what it wants? Who can say? But clearly, by launching over 100 rockets on some days, for a total of 5,000 or so rockets, its arsenal has run low without an alternate source of supply. After Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has accepted the ceasefire in the name of Hamas and in light of the pummeling Gaza has taken in recent days, it is highly unlikely the terrorists would deliberately violate it again.

  

 Credit where credit is due

  

MK's Naftali Bennett & Avigdor Lieberman

 At home, Netanyahu's critics, in and out of the government, are sharpening their political knives. Lieberman and Bennett will be leading the charge. No one expected the IDF's 'Protective Edge Operation' to last as long as it did. (The actual name in Hebrew is 'Rugged Cliff' which actually sounds better). There is no question the IDF is vastly more powerful than Hamas, and could have toppled the regime within several weeks, if it had been ordered to go into Gaza with all guns blazing. But this would have caused much greater Palestinian civilian casualties far greater than the IDF's estimated 1,400 who were killed during the fifty-day confrontation. (The number of 2,100 that is often quoted includes the 750 to 1,000 terrorists who were killed). Moreover, a total ground invasion would have resulted in 'hundreds of dead Israeli soldiers' (the IDF's estimate that was leaked illegally from the secret hearings of the security cabinet).

  

...when it became clear the fighting was about to escalate, the government should have evacuated the civilians out of the border area, where they were easy targets for the Hamas rockets and mortars.

 This is what the Israeli public is likely to carefully consider when emotions die down. And when they do, it is likely that a sizeable majority will back Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon for their handling of the crisis. At the outset both Netanyahu and Yaalon saw eye to eye on the strategy of 'quiet for quiet' - if the Palestinians halted the rocketing, Israel would also back off. But Hamas trumped that policy by activating its secret terror tunnels into Israel. This was a danger Israel could not ignore, and necessitated the sending of ground forces into Gaza to search and destroy those tunnels that had taken IDF intelligence by surprise. But when it became clear the fighting was about to escalate, the government should have evacuated the civilians out of the border area, where they were easy targets for the Hamas rockets and mortars.

 

 Undoubtedly, Hamas would have claimed it as a great victory, and indeed it runs against the Israeli ethos of not giving in to terror. However, it was a better option than letting Hamas do its utmost to murder and maim Israeli children, women and men. Netanyahu and Yaalon should have bitten the bullet and ordered a temporary evacuation of Israeli civilians from their homes adjacent to Gaza.

  

 When the Hamas rocketing reaching a crescendo, Lieberman and Bennett hit the roof and criticized Netanyahu in public for not ordering a total invasion of Gaza. IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz has also been criticized in private for his reported reluctance in security cabinet meetings to press for such a move. Maj. Gen. Yoav Gallant (ret.), who actually should have become Chief of Staff, has also contended that the IDF should have made more use of its Special Forces capabilities and battlefield ingenuity that he felt was missing.

 

Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz meets with minister of defense, Moshe Ya'alon, and Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman (photo credit: IDF)

 After a subsequent ceasefire, Gen. Gantz also gave the impression that the fighting was over by talking about 'flowers again blooming along the Gaza border'; this was viewed as an indication the residents, who had evacuated under rocket fire, could now move back. Nearly all of them did, only to be rocketed more fiercely by Hamas. Therefore Netanyahu, Yaalon and Gantz are being tarred and feathered in the media, and emotions have been running high after the killing of the four-year-old boy, Daniel Tragerman.

  

 However, it is likely when the overall situation becomes clearer, the leading trio will get the credit they deserve for their handling of the operation. Would Israel be better off today if it were mourning hundreds of more dead soldiers in addition to the sixty-four who fell in action? And would the U.S. and rest of the international community have acquiesced in such a 'go for broke' operation without threatening to impose sanctions or worse? It's a safe bet that in the same manner Israeli experts designed, produced, and went operational with Iron Dome, they will also invent an effective method for intercepting mortars and detecting tunnels.

 

 Hamas atrocity backfired

 

If they had waited and then launched a simultaneous attack against Israeli villages all along the border, they could have killed and kidnapped dozens of Israeli civilians.

 One of the most puzzling aspects of the campaign was, why did Hamas escalate the rocketing against Israel and trigger the hostilities before it had completed building of all its thirty-one tunnels? If they had waited and then launched a simultaneous attack against Israeli villages all along the border, they could have killed and kidnapped dozens of Israeli civilians. It now transpires that this was their intention possibly on September 24th, the eve of the Jewish New Year. In his recent interview with Yahoo News, Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal admitted that Hamas terrorists had kidnapped and murdered three Israeli youths in July, but he said he knew nothing about it. The atrocity sparked a massive Israeli crackdown on Hamas operatives and facilities on the West Bank. In reaction, Hamas escalated its rocket attacks that in turn triggered massive raids by Israeli jets, and so on, into the mini-war that prompted Hamas to activate its tunnels. This in turn led to their subsequent exposure and destruction.

 

 

 

 

 

 David Essing





 


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