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Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Former National Security Council chief: Instead of attacking Hamas, we should have attacked the State of Gaza

Former National Security Council chief Giora Eiland has written an op-ed on YNet in which he argues that there is no difference between the civilians of Gaza and Hamas (as was the case with Hezbullah in Lebanon eight years ago) and therefore, Israel should have attacked the State of Gaza and not Hamas (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
The story we are telling in this conflict is similar to the one we told in Lebanon in 2006. In this story we are fighting a terror organization, and only a terror organization, while the population the organization is operating from is not the enemy. Moreover, during the fighting we even feel obligated to supply Gaza's residents with food, fuel and electricity. 

Why is that wrong? Because a state cannot defeat an efficient guerilla organization if the following three conditions exist: We and they are on two sides of a border; the organization enjoys the full protection of a state; their state or its citizens are not an accountable side. Whoever fails to understand that is entering a war without an ability to win.

We are seeing now that despite the IDF's impressive fighting, despite the absolute military supremacy, we are in a sort of "strategic tie."
What would have been the right thing to do? We should have declared war against the state of Gaza (rather than against the Hamas organization), and in a war as in a war. The moment it begins, the right thing to do is to shut down the crossings, prevent the entry of any goods, including food, and definitely prevent the supply of gas and electricity.
In a war between states, each side is entitled to use its ability to pressure the other side. The fact that we are fighting with one hand and supplying food and energy to the enemy state with the other hand is absurd. This generosity strengthens and extends the ability of the enemy state of Gaza to fight us.

You probably have two questions now. First, why should Gaza's residents suffer? Well, they are to blame for this situation just like Germany's residents were to blame for electing Hitler as their leader and paid a heavy price for that, and rightfully so.  


Because we want to be compassionate towards those cruel people, we are committing to act cruelly towards the really compassionate people – the residents of the State of Israel.

This is relevant not only to the lessons of the conflict but also to what is expected to happen tomorrow. It's reasonable to assume that as soon as the fire ceases, we will be under heavy pressure to open up the crossing, restore the electricity lines to Gaza and help rebuild buildings and infrastructure. Israel can and should agree, but only if the other side agrees to demilitarize the Strip of heavy weapons.  
The only thing that bothers me about this analysis is the fact that Hamas says that there are no Israeli civilians every time that they set off a suicide bomber on a crowded bus. I agree with closing the crossings and I agree with not supplying food, water, electricity, gas and concrete. I don't agree with targeting civilians unless they're hiding terrorists. I don't think Eiland is arguing for targeting civilians, but I can see where the argument that Gaza's residents are equally as responsible as Hamas can lead to that eventuality. 

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