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There were some expected, and some unexpected, reactions to the article about Gaza Strategy. Since each reader who writes probably represents many more who do not, we should deal with some of these reactions.

Let's try to remember what this was really about: whether or not Israel should invade Gaza to stop terrorist activity from there, and what we might gain from it. The conclusion was, that we would not gain anything. I did not see any reaction that presented a real world argument about what might be gained by an Israeli incursion into Gaza. Since I wrote the article, there was yet another article, this time quoting Chief of Staff Ashkenazi, claiming that an Israeli incursion in Gaza is "inevitable.". Ashkenazi wants an invasion that will "clean out" the terrorists. In his imagination, this might be a quick operation. This is clearly a fantasy, unless he intends to denude Gaza of every male over the age of 15. The following quote is perhaps significant:

At the same time, Ashkenazi said a permanent presence in Gaza - with IDF outposts and pillboxes - was not the answer, since these would then only become targets. He reminded the ministers that there were frequent attacks on Israel from Gaza even when the IDF was well ensconced inside the Gaza Strip.

That is quite true. If so, what could be accomplished by a raid such as the one he contemplates? Any "clean up" that the IDF might do, would be annulled in a month, and the terrorists would be back in force.

One reader did present a "solution." I am ashamed to write about it. I am ashamed that Jews and Zionists could think that way. But ideas like these have been circulating on the Web and we need to explain why they are not carried out, to all those people who think that the solution is at hand, and is not adopted because Israeli leaders are weak or "traitors" perhaps. What was proposed was massive retaliation and collective punishment: destroy large areas of civilian dwellings in Gaza for every rocket. Even the Reichswehr did not go quite that far in World War I. It is the sort of thing Saddam Hussein might do. The IDF does not do such things, and it is well that they do not. Zionists and Jews do not do such things. Those who cannot understand the moral implications, should consider the practical ones. Every time the IDF has damaged property in Gaza, even unintentionally, even on a relatively minor scale, it provoked a huge outcry and UN resolutions manufactured by Mr. John Dugard and his friends. It doesn't require any imagination to understand that this policy would bring down the condemnation of the world upon us. The first time we did it, the Hamas would gain the support of the world community, the embargo on the Palestinian government would be lifted, and the Fatah and the Hamas would join in the cause of fighting the "Zionist enemy" in earnest, backed by supplies that would flow in abundance through the sieve of the Rafiah crossing. If we were to continue in such a policy, we might find that we were the ones being invaded and occupied, and our leaders might be tried like Saddam Hussein and his cronies. That may not seem "fair" to some people, but it is a realistic appraisal of what would be likely to happen. Remember that in general, a major reason why Israeli military action in Gaza cannot be effective is that it would be limited by US and EU pressures. They certainly would not allow Israel to carry out war crimes such as those suggested, which would have no strategic objective. In any case, it is not 1864 any more, and we can't do what William Tecumseh Sherman did in Georgia.

The second set of objections revolved around the question of "is Fatah different from Hamas?" This question is irrelevant to the issue of whether or not to invade, and therefore it will be treated in a separate article. It arose only because I wrote what almost everyone takes for granted, that with the passage of time, the Palestinian people will find that the Hamas are worse than the Fatah, and will return the Fatah to power. If the invasion of Gaza were so beneficial in stopping terror, it would gut the Hamas, and that theoretically would hasten the return of the Fatah. But we know that would not happen anyhow. An invasion will strengthen the Hamas, because like the Hezbollah they would survive, and like the Hezbollah, even if there were only ten of them left at the end, they could claim "victory" and recruit new followers very quickly.

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2007. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000380.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Replies: 5 Comments

What about a three state solution? One each for Israelis, Peaceful Palestinians and and Non Peaceful Palestinians?

If Gaza and/or the West Bank need to be reoccupied the aim should be to offer each individual the chance to declare which state they wish to belong to. If they choose Peaceful Palestine then they have to make a public commitment to not only peaceful activities but also co-operation with Israel in ensuring security. Israel in return would provide substantial economic and organisational assistance and friendship, plus support for viability and independence. The size of Peaceful Palestine would depend on the numbers opting for citizenship of that state, but would offer room for those choosing the peaceful route at a later time.

Those who refuse the offer of citizenship of Peaceful Palestine or whose behaviour is contrary to peaceful principles would be given an area to run themselves with sufficient space for them to live ideally in an area whose border can be effectively policed by Israel.

Israel could then demonstrate its desire to live in peace and generosity with those who wish to live in peace with it.

Judy W, Monday, May 21st

Perhaps the organizations who make the payments to those who launch the rockets could be targeted.


Steve M, Thursday, May 3rd

I find it unlikely that the fence and roadblocks alone would have stopped suicide bombings. Nor does it explain why we kassams have not developed in the West Bank. Surely it's not a lack of technology.

It seems to be that defensive shield with its massive arrests, the constant incursions and arrests afterwards, and the improved intelligence afterwards also helped. There might also be other reasons concerning the cultural differences between Gaza and the West bank. But it is the duty of the army to provide the best possible answers as if there is no diplomatic solution, and it is the duty of the government to seek diplomatic solutions.

Although after Shalit was kidnapped there were incursions into Gaza, I don't think they were as massive as defensive shield. It is also hard to gage their value if there's no follow up. Prior to Defensive Shield I remember one or two incursions into Nablus/Schchem prior to Defensive Shield that did not have sufficient results.

It is right to reject simplistic and perfect solutions to complex problems. But we can't give up on solutions completely.

Micha, Thursday, May 3rd

A mop can clean up spilt milk, but it cannot clean up an ocean. Ashkenazy is proposing another defensive shield in Gaza. But we already had quite a few of those. Gaza got several defensive shields when Shalit was captured, and more during the Lebanon war. Please tell me if it accomplished anything. Also, the suicide bombers were stopped by the fence and checkpoints. The rockets can't be stopped that way.


Ami Isseroff, Thursday, May 3rd

Is there no way to fight a neighboring enemy who is attacking you other than conquering the territory completely or doing nothing?

"An invasion will strengthen the Hamas, because like the Hezbollah they would survive, and like the Hezbollah, even if there were only ten of them left at the end, they could claim "victory" and recruit new followers very quickly."

I don't think the analogy works. The Hizballa were not able to claim victory just because they had ten men standing. And I think if they had only ten men standing (or even more) they could not have claimed victory, or if they did, they would find it difficult to convince others.

If there is no non-military way to deal with Gaza, then the realistic alternatives are either:

a) A continuous occupation.
b) A short but large scale distructive invasion folowed by withdrawl, that will weaken the fighting force significantly, weaken it morally, and create deterrence.
c) Many quick small scale incursions over time that will engage the Palestinian fighting forces and weaken them materially and morally.
d) Improved defensive measures.
e) Combination of the above.

These are certainly not perfect methods, far from it. Any military strategy requires first trying diplomacy. Any miliitary strategy requires to be combined with diplomacy sooner or later if it is to be effective at all. And, for a strategy to work, the army has to be trained well for it. But you can't reject a strategey for being imperfect if the alternative -- not acting -- is worse.

Operation Defensive Shield and following operations in the West Bank combined all of these strategies: the fence and roadblocks, the occupation of areas, the large scale attack, and the constant short incursions into Palestinian cities. And although it was by no means a perfect strategy, and its effect will not last forever if Israel does not take diplomatic measures, there is no doubt that it did improve the personal security of Israelis. From almost daily suicide bombings we have reached a situation where the attacks are pretty rare and not that effective. It's not perfect but it is an improvemernt. The quiet that was gained this way also made it possible for Israelis to think of peace and withdrawl again, making the disengagement from Gaza possible.

Micha, Thursday, May 3rd

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