Part three of analysis by Ron Ben-Yishai
The drawbacks associated with holding off on a Gaza operation have prompted many security officials to recommend an alternative strategy to the one adopted at this time. The basic assumptions of this alternate strategy are somewhat different.
According to this strategy, the IDF should be delivering powerful surgical blows, both from the air and on the ground, against selected targets in the Gaza Strip in a manner that would jeopardize Hamas’ regime in Gaza.
Hamas and the other organizations will indeed respond with massive rocket fire at Israeli communities while attempting to carry out other terror attacks, yet the losses and damages to be incurred by Hamas and by Gaza’s economy as a result of IDF operations would prompt Hamas to ask for a ceasefire after a short period of time.
This was the case in 2004, as well as this year, following the IDF’s limited operation, codenamed “Warm Winter. According to this theory, the new lull would last for several months, and then it will be followed by yet another round of fighting, and so on and so forth, until the time will come for the “large-scale operation,” which the IDF would embark on with Hamas exhausted and weakened.
Yet this strategy clearly has some drawbacks as well: The suffering to be endured by southern communities during every round of fighting, the international pressure that may avert the “large-scale operation,” the anger in the Arab world and in the West Bank that may entangle Israel in an Intifada in the territories, as well as the prospects of a clash with Hizbullah in the north. All of the above are certainly considerations that should be taken into account.
However, no sovereign state or democratic government can disregard its duty to protect the physical security of its citizens over an extended period of time. This consideration may ultimately tip the scales among “responsible and level-headed adults” such as Defense Minister Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Ashkenazi, thereby prompting them to adopt the second option, which is less preferable in their view.