This was published prior to yesterday’s events
Special to WorldTribune.com
TEL AVIV — Israel, faced with withdrawal or conquest, has lost control over the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, a report said.
The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Affairs has asserted that Israel lost the initiative in its conflict with Hamas. A former leading adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas was demonstrating unprecedented capabilities amid Israeli government indecision.
“The feeling that Israel is not in control of the situation, but rather is being dragged along, is perhaps the most difficult aspect of the past few weeks,” the report, titled “The War With Hamas; Decision Time Approaching,” said. “It is hard to stomach the fact that a terror organization, which is one of Israel’s weakest remaining enemies in terms of firepower, has been able to challenge the strongest nation in the Middle East for days and is showing no signs of fatigue.”
Author Yaakov Amidror, who served as Netanyahu’s national security adviser until 2014, said Israel must decide whether to halt or expand the ground war in the Gaza Strip. Amidror said the military’s goal was limited, locating and destroying tunnels from the Gaza Strip to Israel.
“Unfortunately, those are the only two realistic options: a lengthy, difficult operation to end the rocket fire on Israel, or a ceasefire that would lead to another round of violence in the future,” Amidror said.
The report said Israel could no longer ignore the Hamas threat. He cited the ability by Hamas and Islamic Jihad to produce long-range rockets and unmanned aerial vehicles.
“It is possible to create a reality in which there is no rocket fire from Gaza Strip, just as there is no rocket fire from Judea and Samaria [West Bank],” the report said. “This, however, requires a complex ground maneuver to seize the strip, which would undoubtedly result in many Israeli casualties. A prelude to this scenario is evident by the high number of IDF casualties sustained so far in the ground operation.”
Amidror, a former research chief in Military Intelligence, said the military must use massive ground forces to demilitarize the Gaza Strip. He said the process would take between six months and a year and require combat as well as field intelligence. He said the Gaza Strip would require the return of Israeli administration.
“It is a difficult but feasible move that will have an unequivocal result,” the report said. “It will halt the Gaza rocket fire and it will put an end to the terrorist tunnels that threatens Israelis on Israeli soil.”
The alternative was another Israeli ceasefire with Hamas, a proposal pressed by the United States. Amidror said this would require Israeli concessions that would enable Hamas to reconstitute military capabilities for another war. At the same time, Palestinian rocket fire into Israel would continue.
“This lull would also be temporary and we are likely to see the occasional rogue operative fire rockets at communities in the Gaza vicinity; but it is clear that Israel would not violate a cease-fire agreement ‘over a few rockets,’” the report said. “It has not done so in the past, nor will it do so in the future.”