Former IDF chief: Respond to Hamas proportionally
Amnon Lipkin-Shahak tells Ynet, 'If Hamas is behind recent rocket fire, I would go for sweeping operation very painful to Hamas. If Hamas tried to prevent shooting, I would first strike responsible organization.' Maj.-Gen. (Res.) Amidror: No choice but to occupy Gaza
According to Shahak, Israel's response should be linked to who is responsible for firing the rockets. In any case, Shahak said, "The State of Israel needs to settle an account with Hamas for everything that is happening in the Gaza Strip. If Hamas is firing the rockets, I would go for a broad operation very painful for Hamas.
"If Hamas tried to prevent the rocket firing and made genuine efforts to reach a ceasefire, I would firstly strike at the organization responsible who fired the rockets, and only after would target Hamas for not doing enough," Shahak clarified.
Following Operation Cast Lead, Israel warned that if rockets would continue to be fired into Israel, the IDF would exact a heavy price from Hamas. In recent days, civilians in the Gaza vicinity communities have suffered a continual trickle of a rocket or more nearly every day.
"Hamas needs to pay the price," said Shahak. "But if I would learn that whoever fired the rockets made an attempt to hurt the ceasefire interests and Hamas did indeed try to prevent them from doing so, I would consider a response with a different scope."
On the question of whether the recen Gaza offensive achieved its objectives, the former chief of staff said, "I don't know if the operation achieved its objectives because they have yet to be published, but I have no doubt that its effects will be seen in the future. It was managed in a good, proper, to-the-point, and professional manner. If the thought process was to get Hamas to think twice before firing rockets or smuggling arms, these objectives are reachable today as a result of the operation."
'Unclear to Hamas that they lost'
"When a war is over, failure is usually clear to one side, and it won't be in any hurry to go to war again," said Maj.-Gen. (Res.) Yaakov Amidror, former head of the Assessment and Production Division of IDF Intelligence. "The instant he has the capability, it depends solely on his good will – or, more accurately, his bad will."
"The rocket barrage this morning (Sunday) proves that this is not the case – the war did not end in a way such that it is clear to Hamas that they lost," added Amidror. "Moreover, a large part of their capability remains intact."
"Hamas sees the future possibility for reinforcing their strength through continued smuggling. Since this is the situation, and it is clear to everyone that the State of Israel, contrary to any declarations, won't be in a hurry to embark on another large-scale operation, Hamas is trying to make it clear to us that the war is not over and that the State of Israel's leader's bragging statements that victory will deter and bring quiet have no grounds whatsoever," Amidror explained.
According to Amidror, "On the backdrop of international hostility, Hamas feels strong enough to continue firing rockets, and the State of Israel doesn't have a good response to this.
"Every Israeli citizen needs to ask himself why Qassam rockets aren't being fired from Qalqilya into Kfar Saba. After all, it is only a distance of 700 yards. The answer is that the IDF is there, if needed, all day and all night.
"There is no way of fighting terrorism without physically controlling the field. The State of Israel decided to forego controlling the field in Gaza, and, as such, gave up in all practicality its capability to fight terrorism there," Amidror claimed.
Amidror agreed that "the State of Israel has a difficult decision to make: If it does not want to reach a situation in which Hamas cannot strike, it must occupy the Strip for a long time. Otherwise, Israel accepts an enemy that fires whenever it feels like it. There are two bad, difficult, and complicated alternatives – anything else is putting up a smoke screen for the public.
"We only did half the job. We needed to occupy Gaza and not cheat ourselves. It would be a very gentle statement to say that this operation did not achieve its objectives. The military part was carried out. The army did what it was told. In my opinion, it simply wasn't told the right things," concluded Amidror.