If the reports regarding the Air Force strike in Sudan are indeed accurate, this is bad news, and the reasons for the Israeli elation over the attack are completely unclear. Around here, the further a military operation is, the greater the excitement.
Why is this bad news, despite the courage to strike distant targets? Because it means that we failed, both during and after Operation Cast Lead, to achieve international, diplomatic, or psychological-deterrence accomplishments that would prevent the continuation of arms smuggling to Gaza.
We are talking about immense quantities of missiles that poured and are still pouring into the Strip. These may be the missiles that break the balance between us and Gaza; for example, anti-aircraft missiles, missiles that can reach Tel Aviv, etc.
Even in Lebanon we were able to establish, along with the world, several control and prevention mechanisms, yet this is not the case in Gaza. A strike in Sudan, assuming it took place, is a despaired operation, a no-choice attack carried out by those left alone on the battlefield.
There is a great difference between the bombing of the Syrian reactor and the strike on the arms convoy in Sudan. In Syria, it was a strategic strike, as the establishment of a new reactor is an immense project, especially when the world is watching Syria. Meanwhile, dispatching another arms convoy is a piece of cake.
This one-time operation makes it apparent that arms are still flooding the Gaza Strip. Under guise of the temporary calm, a major military buildup is being undertaken there ahead of the next round of fighting; meanwhile, there is still no lull as Israeli communities are being bombarded every day.
Iran, the Palestinians, and other elements are very determined to transfer the arms to Gaza and threaten Israel’s population centers. After they realized that we have the intelligence capabilities to detect ships carrying arms – for example, the ship that was stopped in Cyprus – they switched to land shipments. By now you can be sure that they no longer use one convoy, but rather, smuggle arms in several stages and more secretly.
Can’t count on Egypt
Regrettably, we ended the Gaza operation without any agreement, while the Egyptians, whom we just celebrated 30 years of peace with, did almost everything to undermine our national security. That is, they have not stopped the flow of weapons into Gaza.
The implication of the bombing in Sudan is that our security coordination with Egypt is slim. After all, if this convoy was meant to reach Egypt, why would the Egyptians have any problems seizing it, just like the Cypriots seized the arms ship that entered their territory? Apparently, we indeed have no way of counting on the Egyptians on this front, and that’s a great pity.
Israel must not appear to be terrorist country that strikes wherever it wishes, whenever it wishes, and in distant sovereign states, because tomorrow it can come back to haunt us. If Israel is allowed to bomb, why can’t others bomb Israel? In the international media we are portrayed as a state that violates international law.
There were those who were intoxicated by the notion that Iran would be deterred by this attack, yet this is not the case. Indeed, the Iranians fear a possible Israeli strike, yet they too estimate that it won’t happen. One needs to know how to make threats, and our threats vis-à-vis Hamas during the negotiations on Gilad Shalit’s release didn’t really make a difference for the group, whose perception of time is wholly different than our own.
It was important to bomb the arms convoy in terms of taking advantage of an opportunity, yet I would not be overly impressed by the accomplishment: It has nothing to do with our ability to curb the weapons flow into Gaza or create deterrence. This merely attests to what Shakespeare already wrote before: “How my achievements mock me!”