Ron Ben Yishai
Ron Ben Yishai
Photo: Courtesy
A Palestinian gunman fires through a hollow in the Gaza border wall, critically injuring an Israeli Border Police member on Saturday

Israel must rethink its failed Gaza strategy

Analysis: The blunder along the Gaza border barrier that left an IDF soldier gravelly hurt over the weekend is just one of many miscalculations on Israel's part when facing Hamas, and perhaps the time is right for another round of fighting from where we left off

Ron Ben-Yishai |
Published: 08.22.21, 23:09
The shooting that gravely wounded a border policeman during Saturday's Palestinian riots along the Gaza Strip border was the result of failed planning on the IDF's side and the misconception that the newly erected border wall provided troops with adequate protection.
5 צפייה בגלריה
פלסטיני יורה לכיוון חיילים בהפגנה על גדר גבול עזה
פלסטיני יורה לכיוון חיילים בהפגנה על גדר גבול עזה
A Palestinian gunman fires through a hollow in the Gaza border wall, critically injuring an Israeli Border Police member on Saturday
Border Police Staff Sergent Barel Hadaria Shmueli was shot at point-blank through a small aperture in the wall inside Israeli territory that wasn't properly sealed. Rioters could have just easily hurled a grenade throw the gap, causing untold damage to Israeli forces.
In fact, these little openings were built in such a way that blocks soldiers' visual field as they are aiming their guns into Gaza.
But the real problem was that rioters were permitted to come near the wall in the first place.
5 צפייה בגלריה
עימותים בין צה"ל לפלסטינים ליד גדר הגבול עם עזה
עימותים בין צה"ל לפלסטינים ליד גדר הגבול עם עזה
A man holding the Palestinian flag takes a selfie against the background of the Gaza border wall
(Photo: AFP)
Armed rioters were able to reach the wall unimpeded and could have potentially breached it and entered Israeli communities nearby.
In fact, that was a plan the terrorist group Hamas had tried to carry out when it dug tunnels that reached all the way to the concrete barrier before the latest round of fighting with Israel in May.
The plan was for fighters to emerge from the tunnels carrying explosives meant to blow up the wall and ladders to climb it. Hamas thought that if four or five of their men could breach the barrier, they would be able to enter Israeli communities on the other side.
That was why the IDF bombed the tunnels first during the last fighting round.
But still, commanders did not learn their lesson and failed to understand that defensive action, including the deployment of snipers, was only effective while rioters were still behind the old border fence in Gaza, and before entering what was, in fact, Israeli territory.
5 צפייה בגלריה
עימותים בין צה"ל לפלסטינים ליד גדר הגבול עם עזה
עימותים בין צה"ל לפלסטינים ליד גדר הגבול עם עזה
Palestinians riot on the Israel-Gaza border wall on Saturday
(Photo: AP)
That is where the IDF positionED during the "March of Return" riots in 2018-2019.
The IDF could have also used drones to provide an extra layer of protection for troops in case rioters came too close to the border wall.
Despite concerns on the Israeli side of a possible escalation in violence — rioters should have been fired on to keep them away, in line with the declared policies of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Defense Minister Benny Gantz that Israel would no longer tolerate any Hamas aggression against it and its citizens.
The IDF troops relied on the state-of-the-art border wall that was supposed to offer protection from offensive tunnels but kept Israel poorly defended on Saturday.
History teaches us that no defense line is impenetrable and must never be relied on as the sole means to stop an advancing force.
5 צפייה בגלריה
עימותים בין צה"ל לפלסטינים ליד גדר הגבול עם עזה
עימותים בין צה"ל לפלסטינים ליד גדר הגבול עם עזה
Palestinian youth demonstrate near the Israel-Gaza border on Saturday
(Photo: AFP)
Saturday's events came after Israel failed to respond to a rocket attack targeting the city of Sderot earlier in the week and its agreement to allow Qatari money into Gaza after it was suspended for months. This capitulation to Hamas' threat of violence should have to come to be.
Israel has an opportunity now to complete its mission to disarm the Palestinian factions, including a ground offensive.
5 צפייה בגלריה
עימותים בין צה"ל לפלסטינים ליד גדר הגבול עם עזה
עימותים בין צה"ל לפלסטינים ליד גדר הגבול עם עזה
Palestinians demonstrating along the border with Israel on Saturday
(Photo: AFP)
The United States, the UN and the rest of the Western world would not be able to object to such a move on Israel's part following the colossal debacle that is the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The remaining days of the summer break could also provide a convenient time window for an Israeli military initiative before kids leave the safety of their homes and return to school.
In doing so, Israel would correct the perception in Gaza that it would rather contain acts of Palestinian aggression rather than see another violent confrontation.
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