"The circumstances of Operation Pillar of Defense's end are shrouded in mystery," former Mossad Chief Efraim Halevy said Monday, pondering the nature of the agreement that concluded the hositilities between Israel and Hamas and secured unprecedented benefits for Gaza.
Speaking at a Technion conference, Halevy said, "What we do know is that the area opposite Gaza's shore, where fishing is permitted, has been doubled. The fish markets are flourishing and the smiling faces of Gaza's fishermen behold us from the entire spectrum of the global media.
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"Lately large quantities of building materials are allowed in the strip, alongside the revival of the public bus fleets. What's next? We do not know."
Halevy stressed that the calm which has followed the operation implies that understandings which satisfied both sides were achieved, but that doesn't mean the fighting is over.
"The prime minister more than hinted that the previous round (of hostilities) isn't the end of the story. He has already begun preparing the public for what's ahead. If we are to expect another round, what is the meaning of the assertion that the IDF's deterrence has been restored?" he wondered.
Gaza fishermen (Photo: AFP)
He further added that "It was the prime minister himself who lamented the halt of Operation Cast Lead and said that Hamas must be eliminated from Gaza. And now, when the opportunity has fallen in his lap, why did he not follow through like he demanded his predecessors?
"The defense minister stated that all the operation's goals were achieved. What was the basis of that statement, which was made barely minutes after the ceasefire was declared? And what will he say if in a few months or in a year or two another round will follow? How will he justify his decisive statement that deterrence was restored?"
The worst of dilemmas
Addressing the future of the conflict with Hamas, Halevy said that "the quest for a solution is not easy – salvation will not come on its own. Perseverance, creativity and ingenuity to no end are required.
"Salvation will never come if we don't indicate to our worst adversaries that they also have another option. This must be a practical, not an ideological option.
"If we continue to demand an 'ideological conversion' on their part by requiring them to recognize our rights, we will forever live by the sword, us and them. If, on the other hand, we choose to accept reality, it is possible that Hamas will walk the same path as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. I think the political echelon cannot ignore this alternative."
The former Mossad chief concluded his speech by saying that "reality has changed and we are left with the worst of dilemmas: The possibility of an agreement with our enemies.
"In the past the political and the military echelons were divided in their responsibility for the situation. No more – now they are one. But the political echelon is left alone to face the decision entailed in accepting the enemy.
"The political echelon alone is required to consider this alternative – whether to accept or reject it. For this it, and only it, will be judged by the public and stand the trial of history."
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