What’s happening on the Gaza front these days is simply a disaster.
What is being portrayed as level-headed, measured, moderate Israeli policy is simply a case of irresponsibility. The government of Israel is being led and is conducting itself – due to some inexplicable internal weakness – by the rules of the game dictated to it by the Hamas organization.
Time and again we have been repeating the same mistake, for three decades now, and letting them drag us into a lengthy brawl at their pace.
It happened to us with Fatah, with Hizbullah, and now with Hamas: We are killing dozens and hundreds of them, and they carry out attacks and fire dozens and hundreds of rockets at us. This is like a bloody ping pong match, it undermines our deterrence, and it exhausts our economy and society. Every time we promise ourselves not to fall into this attrition trap, and every time we play into their hands again.
Every time, prime ministers and defense ministers resort to a million excuses why we should not be doing anything, and only once there is no other way, only when disaster strikes, the State of Israel is forced to make decisions. In most cases, what we get is a decision from the gut about another needless war.
So what is the limit of the casualty figures that the political leadership and Israeli society are willing to sustain? Prior to the 2002 operation Defensive Shield, about 500 Israelis were killed in terror attacks. Is this the political leadership’s limit these days as well? Meanwhile, we are running out of miracles. Saturday, two young people were seriously wounded. Last week, Qassams landed near a kindergarten and a school. This won’t end well.
Defense ministers and chiefs of staffs have adopted a general statement in recent years: “The State of Israel has no magic solution for the Qassams.” The implication of this: Sit and wait until we invent a magic solution. Yet nobody is asking for a magic solution. What we seek is a simple and unequivocal solution.
If we are engaged in a war against Hamas, why is the group’s political leadership – both below and above Ismail Haniyeh – not in our sights and not paying a personal price? The elimination of Sheikh Yassin and the gang around him minimized the wave of suicide bombings at the time.
Waiting for the last momentThe rockets held by Hamas today can already reach the southern town of Ashkelon and even north of it. Last week we learned that rocket attacks on Israel are being carried out from inside “nature reserves,” that is, concealed bunkers, enabling terrorists to fire without endangering the shooters and without letting our tactical intelligence means identify the launching sites in advance. At this time, the Air Force has the ability, in any type of weather, day or night, to identify above-ground launchers. Below ground is a completely different story. Our technological advantage is eliminated.
So what are we waiting for? For them to decide that they feel like firing long-range rockets at Ashkelon?
Two weeks ago, the Air Force brought down a Hamas Interior Ministry building in Gaza. A six-story building was bombed on Friday when there was nobody there. This was the first time Hamas, as a government body, coped with the results of a bomb weighing a ton. They were shocked, and the previous Qassam wave ended. Why do we see Hamas government symbols in Gaza still intact in the wake of the rocket attacks on Israel over the weekend?
It appears that the State of Israel is being gentle with Hamas simply because it has no interest it toppling its Gaza regime. The existence of a Hamas regime in Gaza, its isolation from the West Bank, and the perpetuation of two Palestinians entities are starting to be quite convenient for us. Such state of affairs guarantees that the notion of a Palestinian state, based on the American vision, will not be realized.
There is no other way to explain the feebleness displayed by the Israeli government and its effort to refrain from hitting Hamas’ top brass and its government institutions.
And we have not yet discussed Hamas’ growing military strength: In the days when the Philadelphi Route was breached, trucks packed with explosives entered the Strip. The entry of at least 20 tons of TNT concealed in flour and cement bags was recorded. They are cooking up something much bigger than we think.
We can already see this explosive-laden truck coming at us without brakes. Yet we’re waiting, as always, for the last moment.