It’s dawning both on the general populace of Israel and the leadership that Hamas was not taken down far enough.
By the end of the day yesterday, a total of 15 Kassam rockets and mortar shells had hit southern Israel. Late last night we struck at launching sites in northern Gaza, a Hamas security building in central Gaza and six smuggling tunnels in the south. These are what are referred to as pinpoint strikes — the air force goes in, hits specific targets, and leaves.
Today, after a mortar shell struck in the Eshkol region, we launched a missile into the south of Gaza that killed one person and wounded three others — according to the IDF, all part of the cell that fired the mortar shell. What must be pointed out with regard to such actions is that the persons comprising such terror cells are dispensable and readily replaced from among the numerous other young terrorists ready to step up and do their thing.
While Barak made a statement indicating that at some point another major operation into Gaza might be necessary, from Cairo yesterday came hints of progress towards a ceasefire.
And yet it seems that this ceasefire is not around the corner.
Senior Hamas official Ali Barakei, speaking to Al Jazeera, has complained that Israel’s conditions were “torpedoing” Egyptian efforts. According to Barakei, Hamas wants more time to pressure Israel. Right now the Israeli demands include tying the ceasefire to the release of Gilad Shalit, a halt in arms smuggling, and the establishment of a buffer zone between Israel and Gaza.
Hamas, it seems, thought it could set terms. If indeed we are tying the release of Shalit to the ceasefire, this is to be applauded.
Such is the frustration within terrorist groups now that there is talk of possible escalation rather than a ceasefire. It depends, they say, on what will come out of the Cairo negotiations, which are currently stalled.
If there is an escalation in rocket launchings, we might be back in Gaza sooner than Barak imagined.
For Maj.-Gen.(res) Yaakov Amidror, former head of the Assessment and Production Division of IDF Intelligence, it’s quite clear that the pinpoint strikes are not going to be effective in stopping rocket fire from Gaza.
In a statement to YNet he said:
“When a war is over, failure is usually clear to one side, and it won’t be in any hurry to go to war again.
“The rocket barrage [Sunday morning] proves that this is not the case – the war did not end in a way such that it is clear to Hamas that they lost. Moreover, a large part of their capability remains intact…
“Hamas sees the future possibility for reinforcing their strength through continued smuggling….and it is clear to everyone that the State of Israel, contrary to any declarations, won’t be in a hurry to embark on another large-scale operation…
“There is no way of fighting terrorism without physically controlling the field. The State of Israel decided to forego controlling the field in Gaza, and, as such, gave up in all practicality its capability to fight terrorism there…
“…the State of Israel has a difficult decision to make: If it does not want to reach a situation in which Hamas cannot strike, it must occupy the Strip for a long time. Otherwise, Israel accepts an enemy that fires whenever it feels like it. There are two bad, difficult, and complicated alternatives – anything else is putting up a smoke screen for the public.
“We only did half the job. We needed to occupy Gaza and not cheat ourselves. It would be a very gentle statement to say that this operation did not achieve its objectives. The military part was carried out. The army did what it was told. In my opinion, it simply wasn’t told the right things.”
Dan Diker and Khaled Abu Toameh have just issued a briefing — “Can the Palestinian Authority Fatah Forces Retake Gaza?” — for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Because of the promotion in certain quarters of a renewal of PA control of Gaza as a way to “solve” the problems there, the thoughtful analysis presented here has particular relevance:
Diker and Abu Toameh list several reasons why this is not likely a viable option and “the U.S. must avoid the temptation of once again blindly relying on Fatah”:
 “…a previous U.S.-funded and armed Fatah security regime in Gaza had entirely failed. In fact, the PA in the West Bank has offered safe haven to terror groups, and the PA Interior Ministry pays monthly salaries to Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades terrorists.”
 “Today, some PA forces are far more professional, having been equipped and trained by U.S. security officials in Jordan. However, these forces are still in their infancy. They have less than one year’s experience, number fewer than 1,500 men, and lack a central command structure.”
 “PA Prime Minister Fayyad…pays the monthly salaries of between 6,000 and 12,000 Hamas Executive Force operatives in Gaza, in line with the 2007 Mecca national unity agreement. (This is not well known.)
With all of this, however, what I found most startling was the fact that “Former PA Civil Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan, whose forces were routed by Hamas in June 2007, has re-emerged as a leading candidate to command Fatah’s security forces, particularly to secure the Gaza crossing points into Egypt and Israel.”
This is a shocking state of affairs that indicates how totally morally bankrupt and corrupt Fatah is.
The briefing indicates that “Palestinian documents captured in 2002 revealed Dahlan’s involvement in major racketeering, including revenues from cigarettes, cement, and the collection of illegal crossing fees. Dahlan’s personal wealth has been estimated at well over $120 million.”
But I would go much further than this: In the course of research I did in 2004, I uncovered documentation of Dahlan’s involvement in terrorism. He had complicity in the foiled Karine-A gunboat operation, for example.
But worst of all: The CIA has a recording of him giving orders to bomb an Israeli school bus in Kfar Darom on November 18, 2002. That was the attack in which two adults were killed and three children in the Cohen family all lost part of a leg. There are few thing lower than ordering an attack on children.
My mind boggles at the thought that he might be trusted with “securing” crossings. What can be said about the moral bankruptcy of a Western world that would find Dahlan acceptable?
The entire JCPA briefing, which is far more extensive than the above summary, can be found at:
Professor Efraim Inbar, who is director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, has yet other thoughts about how to handle Gaza.
In a paper called, “No to the Reconstruction of Gaza,” he writes:
“The developing international campaign to reconstruct Gaza is strategic folly. It is also unlikely to be effective. And, under current circumstances, it is also immoral….
“[Reconstruction] sends the wrong signal. It tells Palestinians that their leadership can make grave, deadly mistakes, and nevertheless gullible Westerners will bail them out. It also signals to Hamas that it can continue shooting at Israel; for if Israel repeats its military action, merciful Westerners again will repair the damage.
“There is no way to reconstruct Gaza without strengthening Hamas…Looking at Palestinian economic performance, it is also clear that reconstruction of Gaza is unlikely to be successful. Since the Oslo process started in 1993, the Palestinians received many billions of euros and dollars, scoring the highest per capita aid in the world. Much of it was squandered by corruption and ineptitude. Very little aid filtered down to the people….The Palestinians lack the legal and institutional infrastructure needed for effective dispersal of economic aid. Gaza is behind the West Bank in its development, making it an even less suitable candidate for effective international aid. Nevertheless, the standard of living of the Gazans is still higher than the Egyptians. (emphasis added)
“From what we know of the fortunes of the humanitarian aid transferred to Gazans in recent years, it is clear that a large proportion of the benefits of the external aid will be siphoned off to the Hamas leadership, followed by Hamas activists; and only what is left will go to the destitute. Those with arms always get the first and best cut from international aid sent to the suffering.
“…Hamas was popular among the Gazans and continues to be so. Moreover, all polls show staggering support among Gazans for violence against Israelis. What moral justification exists for helping people that support an organization intent on destroying the Jewish state and who are actively engaged in killing innocent Israeli citizens?”
I am sorry that I cannot find a URL for this paper that came to me as an e-mail. It is BESA perspectives paper, #63, February 2, 2009.
More on the prosecution of Israeli officials in a Spanish court regarding the assassination of terrorist Shehadeh:
Haaretz has now discovered that the case was in process in the Spanish courts since July 208, and that our Justice Ministry was aware of it and formulating a response, which was a lengthy procedure.
Spain’s foreign minister has told Tzipi Livni that it’s a shame that we didn’t submit the legal material more promptly, but now that it has been received it will serve to reverse the earlier decision.
Israeli Justice Ministry sources, however, say that the decision to indict in the Spanish court was an “ambush move” that came suddenly in the political climate of our operation in Gaza. This was not a process that had proceeded orderly.
And on the matter of newly reinstated Bishop Richard Williamson: He has written a letter of apology to the Vatican.
He expressed regret to the pontiff for the “distress and problems” he caused by publicly denying the Holocaust.
Sorry, this doesn’t cut it. He has not retracted his position.
Remember the distress Tzipi Livni registered just days ago about the positions on relinquishing Israeli territory that Olmert shared with envoy George Mitchell? These weren’t her positions, she protested.
Well…according to Ari Shavit, writing in Haaretz , these were her positions:
“For a year and a half she held detailed, verbose and systematic talks with Ahmed Quria…In the course of the negotiations Livni agreed that the basis for the partition will be the 1967 boundary with minor adjustments and territorial exchanges. She also agreed that more than 70,000 settlers will be evacuated from dozens of settlements.
“However, she did not discuss Jerusalem. She did not find a solution for the refugee problem.” This does not mean that she insists Jerusalem remain undivided — only that she avoided the topic (although Netanyahu charges that she agreed to divide Jerusalem). And failing to find a solution for the refugees does not mean that she indicated we would not take any.
At the Herzliya Conference, which is in process now, she has just indicated that she will proceed with “peace” negotiations if she becomes prime minister.
It’s difficult to process this: Defense Minister Barak has told students at Ben Gurion University that “we can reach a territorial continuity between Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip, by digging a 48-kilometer tunnel under Israeli sovereignty with Palestinian control of the traffic.”
It might be dug, he said, between Beit Hanoun and a village near Hebron would cost between $2-3 billion, “a reasonable sum.”
Precisely what is this man thinking?
Elections are coming a week from tomorrow, and when we consider the above, it cannot be too soon. Dear Heaven, at the end of the day, may we find ourselves with leaders who will protect our nation.
Briefly here: Polls continue to show Likud in the lead, by how much depends on which poll you are looking at. The biggest surprise is the gain by Yisrael Beitenu, the party of Avigdor Lieberman.
The major candidates held a forum in Jerusalem on Motzei Shabbat (Saturday night). Benny Begin, representing Likud, was a disappointment, as he spoke only against Kadima and did not present a solid and coherent platform for Likud. One senses that Begin, who has a sterling reputation for integrity, is tired and will not be the force within the party that it was hoped he would be.
The star of the evening, according to audience response, was Uri Bank, who is on the list for National Union (Ihud Leumi) and presented a forceful and dynamic vision of what the party stands for. This nationalist, Zionist party is the clearest in its refusal to consider a Palestinian state.