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Monday, December 29, 2008

Do we need an exit strategy?

At Hot Air, Captain Ed posts a video from MSNBC that points out that Israel's strategy in Gaza is to hit Hamas' infrastructure while minimizing collateral damage to civilians. That's a fair description of our strategy. Where I differ with Ed is his implication that Israel's best case scenario in Gaza is to reinstall the rule of 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen's Fatah movement.
With Egypt already blaming Hamas for the war and Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah an available option, Gazans may not stick with Hamas for much longer — or so the Israelis must hope.
While it is true that Hamas took over the Gaza Strip violently in June 2007, that doesn't mean that Gazans would prefer Fatah's rule. Fatah was hated in Gaza long before Hamas took over there. You may recall that Fatah's 'strongman' in Gaza - Mohamed Dahlan - escaped to Egypt a few days before the coup. Gazans aren't going to wake up tomorrow morning and agree to Fatah - which they disdain as both secular and corrupt - returning to power. Gaza's population is very different from that of Judea and Samaria. It's much more Islamist. And Fatah cannot even handle Judea and Samaria without the IDF's assistance (all the stories we keep hearing about how many Fatah 'police' have been deployed notwithstanding - we already know how abysmally those 'police' have been 'trained'). How will Fatah control Gaza with the additional weaknesses of "poor lines of communication [and] no strategic position"?

There are alternatives to Hamas rule in Gaza other than Fatah. Michael Oren suggests the Egyptian army (Hat Tip: Memeorandum), which might appeal to some Israelis, but is likely to be rejected by an Egyptian government that already fears being seen (with some justification) as colluding with Israel. Besides, Israel has reason not to trust Egypt either. The Egyptians helped Hamas smuggle weapons in the past.

Others have suggested an 'international force,' but we know that has not worked well in Lebanon, and that any foreign troops would likely become a nuisance (or worse) if Israel were to have to re-enter Gaza. One of the big questions in Lebanon right now is how Israel will handle UNIFIL if Hezbullah attacks and Israel has to go back into southern Lebanon (probably by encouraging UNIFIL to run away). Remember the European monitors in the Philadelphi corridor? They fled when Hamas took over.

Israel's only real choice seems to be what it did in Judea and Samaria in 2002: Reoccupy the Gaza Strip. While the government keeps swearing to us that it won't do that, and while many Israelis are loathe to even consider it, it's the only way Israel can ensure quiet in the south. It's worked since 2002 in the major cities of Judea and Samaria. With the Hamas leadership and its infrastructure demolished, there's no reason it cannot work in Gaza too.


At 6:15 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Israel will have to reoccupy Gaza at some point and restore Jewish settlements there. The Disengagement has not worked and will never work. Any one who thinks it will has not been paying attention to the events of the last several years. There has to be a permanent Israeli military presence in Gaza just as there is in Judea and Samaria. It would be nice not to be able to return there. But that is the one thing Israel eventually has to do, despite what the politicians are saying now, because there is no alternative.

At 6:56 PM, Blogger Freedom Fighter said...

Chag Sameach, Carl.

Read this.


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