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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Deterrence against Hamas

This article by former UN ambassador Dore Gold appears on YNet:

Many politicians declared in 2005 that if after Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, Hamas even dares to fire a Qassam rocket, Israel will retaliate with enormous firepower. The reality is that Israel is not about to erase whole civilian towns. Massive retaliation of that sort will have Israel sitting on the bench of the accused in the UN Security Council and begging President Bush for a US veto, which he may not have the political capital to provide. More importantly, such action also violates the moral standards of the IDF and Israel as a whole since 1948.

Is Israel helpless under these circumstances? No. In the theory of deterrence, there is another concept that has been forgotten: Deterrence by denial instead of deterrence by punishment. Israel must make clear to an aggressor that his attack plan will fail. For example, when Israel put up the security fence in Gaza, in the 1990's, it established a security zone inside the fence in order to deny the Palestinians the ability to dig tunnels. When Israel disengaged from Gaza, it gave up on the security zone, and relied on deterrence by punishment instead. Israel also used to control the outside envelope of Gaza to prevent the flow of arms, but it conceded this control in the Philadephi corridor and as a result advanced arms are now flowing without anyone impeding them significantly. There is a simple lesson from the Gaza experience: the formula of full withdrawal backed up by the threat of punishing deterrence operations simply doesn't work.

In the next stages, Israel must re-establish its doctrine of defensible borders, in accordance with its international legal rights under UN Security Council Resolution 242. In the West Bank, that means making sure that Israel secures US support for controlling the Jordan Valley, in order to prevent a flow of Islamic volunteers and advanced weapons to Hamas from jihadi groups in the East. Israel must seek international support for permanent control of territories from which terrorists can pose a direct threat to vital Israeli civilian installations, like the territories dominating Ben-Gurion Airport. But isn't there always a missile with a longer range, beyond any security zone that Israel will establish? Some will say that for this reason there is no end to the needed depth of security zones.


However strategic depth must be used to deny the most available weapons; there are tens of thousands of SA-7 shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles on the world market with a range of 5 kilometers or less. The 15-20 kilometer range advanced shoulder fired missiles of Russia and the US are for the most part under lock and key, because they also fear such missile reaching the Chechens and al-Qaeda. Similarly, the Palestinians have a few smuggled Katyusha rockets, but they have a seemingly endless supply of home-made Qassam rockets. The latter needs to be neutralized on an urgent basis.
Read it all.


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