By Arieh Eldad
A few months ago, Israeli intelligence reported that Hamas in Gaza possesses anti-aircraft missiles. The Israeli government decided, secretly of course, to stop Israeli crop dusters from flying near Gaza. This was another step in the abandonment of Israeli sovereignty even within the boundaries of the Green Line.
Then Katyusha rockets were fired on Ashkelon, and the prime minister said that this is crossing a red line, as if the blood of the residents of Sderot was not red and no lines protect them. The Israel government refused to order the needed broad land operations and apparently decided to wait for a rocket to hit a school, at which point the bodies of children would provide an excuse for the government to do something. As if according to international law, thousands of rockets falling on a state’s sovereign territory is not excuse enough to fight a war.
This week’s murder by Arab snipers of Carlos Chavez in the fields of Ein Hashlosha confronts the Israeli government with a difficult decision: whether to continue tilling the fields near the fence with Gaza or to retreat from the fields, which in any case are no longer being crop dusted. To surrender to terror or fight it? To evacuate the residents of Sderot or the residents of Gaza’s Beit Hanun? A broad land operation became necessary the day after the expulsion of the residents of Gush Katif and the retreat from Gaza, as soon as a Kassam rocket was fired. But at that point Sharon was incapable of admitting his awful mistake that allowed Hamas to establish its terrorist state, a state that the Israeli army’s welcome but limited responses cannot uproot.
Olmert intends to handle this dilemma in his own warped way, which may well turn the Israeli army from the Israeli Defense Forces into Abu Mazen’s Defense Forces. Even if Olmert orders the IDF into Gaza for a broad land operation, it will not be in order to recapture and hold the Philadelphia Corridor, to cut Hamas off from its supply of weapons and money. Nor does Olmert intend to order the IDF to enter northern Gaza in order to rebuild the ruins of the communities he destroyed as Sharon’s right-hand man. Nor to be a buffer zone between the missile-launching bases in Gaza and the Israeli cities of Sderot and Ashkelon. He intends to send Israeli soldiers to capture key areas in Gaza in order to turn them over to Abu Mazen who lost Gaza because he and his soldiers were unwilling to fight. Now Abu Mazen has found a sucker: Israeli soldiers will fight for him. These are the understandings that were reached between Olmert and Bush during the latter’s visit to Israel. This is the basis on which the U.S. “permitted” Israel to employ in Gaza the right of self-defense that every country has. Bush wants to establish a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, with territorial continuity between these areas, and Olmert is sending Israeli soldiers to fight against Hamas for Fatah and to establish a state for Abu Mazen.
We witnessed something apparently similar in 1982 during the first Lebanese War. But then the Israeli army set out to destroy Fatah in Lebanon and to allow the elected president, Israel’s ally, Bashir Gemayel, to rule in his country. The Israeli army had no difficulty beating Fatah and expelling Arafat from Lebanon, but was unable to prevent the murder of Gemayel by the long arm of Syria. The main goal was the destruction of Fatah; strengthening Gemayel was secondary. So there was nothing wrong with ordering the army to accomplish a mission whose main goal was the destruction of the enemies of Israel, and whose secondary goal was to strengthen Israel’s friends. In Gaza, no one is even pretending that the main goal is the elimination of Hamas, and, in contrast to Bashir Gemayel, Abu Mazen will never take up arms against the Arab terrorist organizations fighting Israel. Naturally, the cynical use of the Israeli army to fight for someone who can never help Israel is also utter foolishness from a practical point of view. If Olmert repeats Sharon’s Lebanese mistake, Abu Mazen’s fate will be that of Bashir Gemayel. But we are not worrying over Olmert’s fictitious partner. We worry over the lives of the Israeli soldiers being sent to battle not in order to destroy terrorism in Gaza, but rather to install there Abu Mazen – whose police force murders Jews and bears arms supplied by Olmert. Israel needs to fight in Gaza in order to destroy Hamas, not in order to turn Israeli soldiers into Abu Mazen’s mercenaries.
Anyone who perceives an internal contradiction in what I have described would be correct. If Olmert wants to strengthen Abu Mazen, why would he speed his demise by sending the Israeli army to fight for him? But the Winograd Commission has already expressed itself regarding the absence of calculation and rational thinking on the part of the prime minister.