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Monday, May 19, 2008

No more 'exit strategy'?

Three months ago, I was critical of the government's search for an 'exit strategy' before sending IDF troops into Gaza.
One of the reasons why Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert has not given the order to send large numbers of IDF ground troops into Gaza is his fear - which unfortunately is shared by a large percentage of the population - that sending ground troops into Gaza will result in a 'reoccupation.' In a word, Israel's 'leadership' has so traumatized the country that the 'occupation' of Gaza - and for that matter of southern Lebanon - was a 'bad' thing, that Israel fears going in and doing what needs to be done because troops might be 'stuck' there. This is something I discussed previously in connection with a possible retaking of the Philadelphi Corridor (see the maps). The fear of 'occupation' must be overcome, because there is no other way to secure our southern border or any other border for that matter. No one else is going to fight our battles for us, and none of the Arabs are going to let us live in peace. We are not and can never be a 'normal' country.

Nevertheless, the Olmert-Barak-Livni junta is continuing its quest to find others to fight our battles. The latest idea it has hit upon (which is really not a new idea) is to have Israel expend our soldiers' blood to retake Gaza, and then turn it over to 'international forces' who will act as human shields to protect the 'Palestinian' terrorists against us. If this sounds familiar, it should.

But if the last time there was at least the basis for the presence of an international force before Israel entered the war theater, this time there is not. Recall, that there was UNIFIL in southern Lebanon before the summer of 2006, albeit a much smaller force. There is no such thing in Gaza. Our two Arrogant Ehud's want to present the world with an ultimatum.
In today's Haaretz, Amir Oren argues that we are past the point of no return for an invasion of Gaza, and that the IDF is going to have to go into Gaza and stay there.
Almost three years after the disengagement of Jewish settlers from Gaza, there can no longer be any doubt: The military evacuation has failed, even if the civilian evacuation was necessary - after all, the settlement activity was unacceptable from the start. Gaza is a testimony to the ongoing failure of the defense establishment, from the years-long dismissal of the need to invest in the research, development and acquisition of missile interception devices; through the abandonment of the Philadelphi route and the northern buffer zone near the Erez crossing and Moshav Netiv Ha'asara; to the neglect that led to the loss of visual contact with the kidnappers of Gilad Shalit, because no continuous surveillance was used. Today, too, the rocket and mortar warfare is mainly a matter of resources and priorities. A constant presence of Israeli aircraft would save lives, but it would be extremely costly, cutting into the budget for other activities. Yet it could suppress the rocket attacks - just as an ongoing police patrol in all violent neighborhoods would minimize criminal activity there, but weigh heavily on the public pocket.

The primary mission of the Israel Air Force, to protect the country's skies from attack (be it by planes, missiles or rockets), has not been met. Former prime minister Ariel Sharon and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gave in to President George W. Bush's pressure and agreed to include in the Palestinian elections a movement that opposed - and still opposes - the recognition of Israel, the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, and any form of compromise.

One thousand days after the disengagement, the "point of no-return" that the instigators of the withdrawal wished to establish has disappeared. Instead, a new "point of no-return" has emerged, pointing in the other direction: a "return" to Gaza. The diplomatic payback Sharon demanded - Bush's consent to leave the settlement clusters in the West Bank, along with the dubious interpretation of an American blessing for their further expansion - all these will vanish once John McCain or Barack Obama take office. Hamas' conditions for a cease-fire are nowhere near those set by Israel.

So far, Israel's military entry into Gaza has been delayed because of IDF demands that the political echelon first formulate an "exit strategy." Now the General Staff has stopped waiting for a reply. If the disengagement was the strategy for exiting Gaza, the only plan now really being put together is the strategy for exiting the exit strategy.
I disagree with Oren on the efficacy of 'settlements' in Gaza. I believe that they contributed to Israel's security. But I agree with him that there is now no choice but to send the IDF back into Gaza and to stay there. Hamas continues to amass greater quantities of more sophisticated weaponry and the number of Israelis it threatens continues to grow daily. The situation is intolerable. The IDF must react. There is no choice.


At 9:39 PM, Blogger Thud said...

The fact that Israel can never be as you say a normal country is something that seems to escape olmert et al.Normalising relations with surrounding nations if possible is wise and desireable but should not detract from the ultimate aim of security for the people of Israel.

At 2:28 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

A normal country defends itself without hesitation. Israel's leaders appears to want to search for an excuse from the principal obligation any normal country has: to defend itself and ensure its own survival. This is an obligation that cannot be subcontracted out to others. Sooner than later Israel will have to retake Gaza. Israel cannot tolerate the existence of an Iranian satellite on its southern border. The well-being of Israel's people comes first.


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