Did Netanyahu put Israeli lives at risk to avoid attacking Hamas before the US election?net positive for Prime Minister Netanyahu's relationship with President Obama, because Israel put off its hunting expedition for game-changing Fajr-5 rockets until after the US Presidential election.
For Israel, Pillar of Defense was not about killing terrorist masterminds like Ahmed Jabari or blowing up Hamas headquarters. Those were ancillary targets. This round of hostilities was actually a hunting expedition for Fajr-5s.
As Israel's air force methodically struck these rocket sites, one after the next, Hamas realized it was "use 'em or lose 'em." They began — along with Palestinian Islamic Jihad – firing off their Iran-supplied weapons. But even then, the Fajrs hurtled some 50 miles out of Gaza only to be shot out of the skies over Tel Aviv by Iron Dome, an anti-missile system developed jointly by the U.S. and Israel.
The Israelis claim to have destroyed most if not all of the Fajr-5s – about 100, give or take – in the first few days of fighting. Only then, after Israel had destroyed the bulk of the rockets, did Secretary of State Hillary Clinton make any serious effort to pressure Egyptian President Mohammed Morsy into brokering a ceasefire.
In other words, Operation Pillar of Defense bears unmistakable signs of close coordination between Netanyahu and Obama. And while the White House may not admit it in public, Netanyahu appears to have done everything in his power to ensure that Israeli military operations did not get in the way of Obama's bid for reelection.
If anything, Netanyahu may have put off striking the Fajr-5s until well after the election, even if it put his own population at risk.
Of course, Obama and Netanyahu may yet come to loggerheads over when and whether to attack Iran's nuclear sites. Even before that, Obama may demand the Israelis return the favor, either by asking anew for a settlement freeze, or even pushing Netanyahu to forgive PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas' unilateral theatrics at the United Nations tomorrow.
But, for now, Pillar of Defense has resulted in a surprising new understanding between two leaders who have struggled to find common ground. And that's a victory for the U.S.-Israel relationship.While the delay in the operation may have been positive for our relations with the US in the short term (and I'm not so sure even that can be said in the long run, although clearly Obama did not object to Israel's bombing Hamas for an entire week), I'm afraid it sets a bad precedent and that in the end Obama will not help us with Iran anyway. This story reminds me of Operation Desert Storm, where Israel sat back and absorbed rockets for the sake of the Bush (I) administration's coalition, and then found itself the target of a gang rape a couple months later in Madrid. What could go wrong?
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