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Saturday, December 22, 2007

The costs of an invasion of Gaza

Good week everyone.

Sorry for the delay in getting online - we had internet problems again tonight. (Since our ISP, actcom, was taken over by Bezeq International, the problems seem to be more frequent).

The weekend edition of the JPost has an interesting analysis of the costs of an invasion of Gaza. The bottom line is that they estimate that about 100 Israeli soldiers would - God forbid - be killed. That's about as many as were killed in Lebanon in the summer of 2006. Here's more:
There is no question that the IDF can, if it unleashes it full power, significantly weaken Hamas, and perhaps destroy it.

Israel would first bomb Hamas positions from the air and simultaneously begin assassinating Hamas's military, and possibly even political, leadership.

The IDF has learned its lessons from the Second Lebanon War and would fairly early on send large forces into Gaza for two purposes - to stop the Kassam rocket fire that will escalate in the first few days of the operations and to hunt down terrorists by going door-to-door on Gaza's densely-populated streets.

It would also most likely take up positions in the Philadelphi Corridor next to Sinai to stop the weapons smuggling into Gaza, as well as in the northern Gaza Strip, the launch pad for many of the Kassam rocket squads.

But before all this begins, the question that needs to be asked is what price Israel is willing to pay for such an operation. Official estimates talk about more than 100 dead soldiers, possibly even more than the 119 killed during the Second Lebanon War. Hamas is no longer a small terror group; it has a full-sized military in Gaza, armed to its teeth and highly-motivated to fight.

The bigger problem is the exit plan. "It is easy to go in, but more difficult to get out," a senior defense official said recently.
But the most curious part about this is why the invasion hasn't happened yet. The reason is its purpose. You thought (as did I, by the way), that the reason for invading Gaza was to stop the Kassam fire on the western Negev and to keep it from escalating with longer range missiles. Unfortunately, that's not why the government thinks it is sending the IDF into Gaza.
The thinking within Jerusalem that a large-scale operation in Gaza is the only real way for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's peace partner, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, to return to power in the Strip has been floating around the halls of the Kirya Military Headquarters for several months now, ever since Hamas's violent takeover of Gaza in June.


With the IDF, as well as the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), not all that sure that Abbas is capable of grabbing the reins and retaking Gaza, there may not even be a reason to go in there to begin with.
Some of you may recall that shortly after Gilad Shalit was kidnapped, Ehud K. Olmert came out with a stupid statement about how Israel would have to defeat Hamas in Gaza so that it could carry out his 'plan' to expel all the Jews from Judea and Samaria. That 'thinking' has apparently not changed.


At 2:12 AM, Blogger Lydia McGrew said...

I read an interview with some guy (can't remember his name) who was the former Quartet envoy. This guy was arguing that Sharon could have carried out the exit from Gaza and elsewhere in a fashion that would have made them work. This guy _loved_ Sharon and obviously thought that the major reason that Gaza turned into a mere rocket-launching pad and a Hamas stronghold was because Sharon's plan had to be carried out by Olmert instead.

Now, I'm sure you disagree with that sweeping implication. But is there *any* truth in the idea that things would have gone better with these withdrawals if Sharon had been at the helm instead?

At 2:18 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


Olmert didn't carry out the expulsion from Gaza: Sharon did. The expulsion from Gaza was in August 2005. Sharon's stroke was in January 2006 (you can find it in the first month of my archives). And the Pali's were launching Kassams into Sderot before the Jews even left Gaza. But they have increased significantly since then.

At 4:11 AM, Blogger Lydia McGrew said...

Yes, I'm sorry, I worded that badly. I knew that Sharon carried out the expulsion. This guy's idea was that somehow he would have done the follow-up better. But there were few details!

I'm unconvinced by the claim myself, that's for sure.


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