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Gaza invasion - pros and cons

MK (Gen.) Dani Yatom: 'Israel should escalate special operations and not launch ground invasion of Gaza'

MK (Gen.) Yitzhak Ben-Israel: 'IDF full scale operation into Gaza is only way to suppress unbearable rocketing of Sderot'

Israel has not yet found a solution for stopping the terrorist rocketing of Sderot from the Gaza Strip that reached a new level of intensity this week. For the time being, the Israeli government has decided against launching a ground invasion of Gaza to suppress the attacks which are turning Sderot into a ghost town. IsraCast turned to two retired IDF generals for their analysis of the security dilemma. Kadima Knesset Member Yitzhak Ben-Israel said the IDF must be ordered to conduct a full-scale ground operation- this was the only way to halt the rocketing. On the other hand, Labor MK Dani Yatom favors more special operations that should also target Hamas political leaders such as Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

Knesset Member Dani Yatom views the current flare-up as more of the same - a continuation of the terrorist rocketing from Gaza that has been going on for seven years now. Although the terrorists have increased the volume of rockets, the IDF has also been making them pay a heavy price. Since Israel's total withdraw from Gaza over two years ago, one-thousand Palestinians have been killed, most of them terrorists. Yatom argues that a full-scale invasion would cost the lives of many Israeli soldiers as well as innocent Palestinians. His solution is for the IDF to step up its limited raids into Gaza that should be conducted around the clock, from land, sea and air. Hamas operatives and officials including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh should also be hit. In Yatom's view: 'There is no distinction between Hamas political and terrorist leaders - they all give orders to kill Israelis'.

Palestinian Terrorists firing Qassam rockets

Another retired IDF General, Yossi Peled of the Likud, has proposed that the IDF give Palestinians 24 hours to evacuate villages that are used as launch-sites for the rocketing before Israel bombs those areas (D.E this was a tactic used by the U.S in Iraq - in Chechnya the Russians did not bother giving Chechnyan civilians any warning at all). However, Dani Yatom rejects the idea, saying after such an Israeli warning the Palestinians would gather even more civilians in the village and Israel would not dare bomb it. The retired General adds that the Gaza experience illustrates the necessity for the IDF to maintain freedom of action against terror organizations in the West-Bank. If the IDF were to cease  its counterterror operations there, Hamas would also take control of the West-Bank.

MK Yitzhak Ben-Israel says the Gaza situation may have entered a new stage now. It was unbearable that the terrorists were being allowed to rocket Sderot into a ghost-town. The only way to stop it was a major ground operation. Ben-Israel rejects the reported IDF simulation that some 70 Israeli soldiers would be killed in the first week of such an invasion. He believes that those who leaked the figures have exaggerated  the casualties and have a 'hidden agenda' against the invasion. He adds that it is naïve to believe that violence can be stopped without violence and that wars can be fought without casualties - 'if this were the case, we should pack-up and leave'. But if the Palestinians have smuggled tons and tons of explosives into Gaza from Egypt, they have obviously prepared tank traps and mined much of the area with the aim of hitting advancing Israeli troops. Ben-Israel rejects this argument as another excuse for not entering Gaza saying it is out of the question that the IDF cannot defeat 'a bunch of terrorists'. Nor would reducing Israeli supplies of electricity and fuel deter Islamist terrorists from attacking Israel.

Is the Israeli reluctance to invade Gaza despite the provocation a result of the Second Lebanese War? Ben-Israel sees this as yet another excuse, saying Hezbollah has not dared launching rockets into Israel again because of the IDF response a year and a half ago, and it was possible to achieve a similar result in Gaza.

David Essing

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