Palestinian sources call Sunday morning's attack on an IDF outpost near the Gaza border "Operation Fading Illusion". The Palestinian propagandists who coined the phrase had something else in mind, but Israel would also be wise to take note of the name: In many ways it describes the reality that will be created here after all the illusions the government has been selling us these past three years – realignment, separation fence, us here – them there – are put into place.
This is what post-West Bank withdrawal terror attacks will look like if there is no one on the other side with any true weight, and if all Palestinians do not have a clear interest in maintaining quiet: Long-range weapons like Qassams, occasional, well-planned operations with significant impact.
The attack on Kerem Shalom was conducted from deep inside the Palestinian consensus. And it may not be nice to say, but the world will have a hard time condemning it. It was an attack on soldiers, it took courage. It was not a cowardly act.
As much as it may disgust us, it is seen – against the recent, successive reports of civilian deaths as a result of IDF artillery – as almost legitimate. This significantly reduces the options available to Israel's government, the IDF and the media when responding to the attack.
This is what we can expect, even if we assassinate the entire Hamas upper echelon and attack Gaza without differentiating between soldiers and civilians. We have no control over areas we don't have forces in (and even in areas where we do have forces, we don’t really have control, as we discovered over all these years in south Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank).
South Lebanon is a good example: A guerilla opposition developed, it attacked soldiers, and over time set the rules of the game with regard to Israel. Don't be surprised if the attack on Kerem Shalom wasn't conducted by Jihad International, and they are trying to hint, but rather by knowledge and a mentality learned from Hizbullah.
A border institutes routine. Outposts on the other side are immovable targets. With a border, there is time to plan and prepare. Run-of-the-mill patrols, routine, the daily burnout and every eventless day that passes turn this huge, immobile army into an easy target.
This happened when Israel occupied Gaza (remember the attacks on the Merkava tanks), but it will really come about if Israel leaves the West Bank unilaterally.
The decision if this is better or worse than the situation we've got at the moment is another question. But it is important to understand that no withdrawal and no fence will give total security. The only thing that will create security is a Palestinian interest for quiet, and a strong force that can enforce it.