Israel’s dilemma: War on Gaza or minor moves in West Bank?

Apparently, Netanyahu has no stomach for an extensive operation in Gaza, but must take some action to appease Likud activists and settlers.

By Amos Harel, HAARETZ | Jul. 2, 2014 | 2:37 AM

The public demands revenge, but Netanyahu doesn’t want long war with Hamas

Israel is still considering its response after the discovery of the bodies of the three abducted teenagers. The cabinet met on Monday night but could not reach a decision. Another meeting was scheduled for on Tuesday. Leaks from the earlier meeting indicated that the session was charged, with Economy Minister Naftali Bennett calling for severe reprisals. Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and Chief-of-Staff Benny Ganz urged restraint. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leaned towards accepting the advice of the defense establishment but was concerned about the political ramifications of showing restraint.

Basically, the Israeli dilemma is whether to launch an aggressive operation in the Gaza Strip, which could spark a conflagration with Hamas, or to make do with minor moves in the West Bank. Apparently, Netanyahu has no stomach for an extensive operation in Gaza, but must take some action to appease Likud activists and settlers (increasingly overlapping groups). In a statement he made after the bodies were found, Netanyahu promised that Hamas would pay, because that is what Israel’s gut instincts dictate.

The prime minister quoted a Bialik poem that refers to there being no possible revenge for spilling the blood of a small child (written after the 1903 Kishinev pogroms). This, like other proclamations made following the finding of the murdered teens, showed a sense of disproportion. There is no doubt that the three teenagers were innocent victims, but Netanyahu seems to have forgotten that they were not victims of a pogrom in Ukraine a century ago but citizens of a powerful state, reportedly a nuclear one.

In conversations with furious settlers, some cabinet ministers promised on Tuesday that the state would “prepare several new parking lots in Hebron,” hinting at a renewal of the policy of demolishing the houses of terrorists. This policy was upheld on Tuesday by the High Court of Justice, which rejected an appeal against the intended demolition of a house belonging to the suspected murderer of a police officer. It is likely that the houses of the suspected murderers and their helpers in this case will also be demolished. Other steps directed at Hamas and expulsions of its activists from the West Bank were also considered.

This is legally complicated, since international law forbids removal of citizens of occupied territories to foreign territory. Israel renounced its responsibility for the Gaza Strip following its unilateral disengagement. Such steps are intended to serve as deterrent measures, also precluding extreme right-wing ‘price tag’ operations against Palestinians. The police and Shin Bet are now concerned about reprisals by Jewish extremists. This concern motivates even more moderate coalition partners to consider a policy of extensive punishment.

Another issue is the settlements. The settlers are hoping for the approval of a particularly large new building drive with 10,000 new units. Yaalon, a moderate in military affairs, supports the hawks on this issue, proposing the resettlement of an abandoned location in the Etzion Bloc. Netanyahu reportedly met with settler leader Zeev Chever on Monday night. Chever has no interest in Gaza — he only wants more housing units. Moderate cabinet ministers such as Lapid, Livni and, surprisingly, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch are waging a holding battle. Some building will take place, but they hope it is limited to the Etzion Bloc, not to isolated settlements. They will also try to limit the numbers that are approved. Additional construction in the settlements will draw international criticism, but less than a large military operation in Gaza would.

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland, former head of the National Security Council, has recommended that the government consider an extensive operation. He believes there is now an opportunity due to Hamas’ weakness and its rift with Egypt, as well as an operative need to damage its capability of producing mid-range missiles that can reach Tel Aviv. While serving in senior posts during the Sharon government’s term, Eilan often derided the gaps between belligerent declarations made after suicide bomb attacks and the steps actually taken. This pattern may repeat itself with Netanyahu at the helm.

So far, Israel’s response has been restrained. Although the IDF boasted of 36 aerial strikes, most of the targets were offices and warehouses within one Hamas military facility, with four people slightly injured. The late hour and minimal casualties indicate that the planners waited until all Hamas personnel had left the premises to go watch Algeria’s World Cup soccer match before approving the strike.

Some television analysts are calling for targeted assassinations of senior Hamas leaders. This is unlikely to happen, since most of these leaders went underground after the bodies were found, and they are likely to continue taking precautionary measures.

The courts allowed the release of the recording made on the night of the abduction. The words “I’ve been kidnapped” can be heard clearly, followed by shouts and the sound of gunfire. These only underscore the extent of the bungled response. The fact that the operators tried calling back eight times indicates they suspected foul play and should have alerted security forces. This may not have saved the teens but would have facilitated capturing their abductors.

These details raised conspiracy theories, such as one suggesting that the facts were hidden to allow a widespread operation that would unravel the reconciliation between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority or to deflect attention away from economic issues. These theories are ungrounded, since withholding publication stemmed from a complete lack of information. Investigators had the recording and bullet marks in the burned vehicle, as well as experience from previous cases, which indicated a preference not to deal with live hostages. The absence of bloodstains in the car left some hope.

The ethos of not leaving anyone behind also urged commanders and soldiers to persist in their efforts to find the missing boys, despite the intense heat. Only last week, were expectations of finding them alive lowered by the chief of staff.

July 2, 2014 | 10 Comments »

Subscribe to Israpundit Daily Digest

Leave a Reply

10 Comments / 10 Comments

  1. @ bernard ross:
    There is nothing not to believe about the Netanyahu’s dedication to harm Jewish national interests on behalf of every foreign anti-Semite.
    My initial views, much as those of vast numbers of Jews here, were that a vigilante action may have executed the pederast Islamic young degenerate. It was not so. But the Netanyahu and his putrid gangs wasted no time to, like hyenas, attack the “settlers”.
    I have tried for a decade to present clearly who are those unJews, self hating filth in government. And what must be done to raze that layer of contamination.
    Nothing short of a Jewish revolution will do.
    Lets do the correct thing before Netanyahu causes more harm.

  2. In phone call, Netanyahu assured Kerry of justice for Arab teen murder

    I cannot believe that BB allowed obama kerry to insult Israel and the jews in this fashion. they behave as if they own Israel and BB. Why would they need assurance that the routine murder of an Israeli arab WOULD NOT receive justice in Israel. BB played along like a poodle with this disgusting display of butt licking. they have manged to turn the focus to this murdered arabs and away from the kidnapped and slaughtered jews by arab terror. I fear that this is the biggest mistake that BB faltered, he blinked, and the wolves gobbled him up. I read that BB was advised by qatar, saudi and Egypt not to invade gaza but to operate in the west bank. as a cynic I wonder if the idea is to prop up abbas in elections with no oppositon from hamas so he can be “legitimately” elected.

    BB just allowed Obama and Kerry to spit on Israel and all Jews, stealing the Jews sorrow and replacing it with an enemy murder. they steal the jews bible and now they even steal the Jews sorrow . Israel is not even allowed to grieve before the filthy bastards demand once more for the pals.
    Allowing obama and kerry in the door of Israels governance in this fashion is like inviting the wolf into the henhouse.

  3. @ yamit82:

    Analysis: Arab Sex and Arab Terror

    It is unbelievable that obama kerry interfered in Israeli internal affairs in what so far appears to be a routine murder. I would not be surprised if they colluded with abbas to change the world sympathy that flowed to the Israeli teens and get it switched back to the pals being the center of attention. Obama kerry were too quick to react and the riots appeared cued. From all I read so far there appears to be NO reliable evidence to support that jews did it
    in the absence of evidence it is much more reasonable to assume that it is a typical arab murder as they routinely kill their children for honor and use them as human shields. Even more believable than jews did it is a pa false flag.
    furthermore, I dont beleive that Jews would have taken him from in front of a mosque after his 2 friends left him and went inside. The whole thing sounds fishy and the kerry obama quick politicizing of it smacks of a con. I wouldn’t trust kerry obama to watch over a pile of dogshit.
    Aso, if he was gay as rumored the parents would prefer he died this way than dishonored. perhaps the parents were given the choice to allow others to kill him and blame it on the jews. Perhaps the PA and kwasmeh clan arranged it.
    His picture definitely looks gay for a 16 year old and even if he wan’t the arabs would probably have accused him anyway just for his looks. His parents were probably given the choice that he dies as a martyr and they lie or he dies dishonoring the family name.

  4. John Kerry ?@JohnKerry 3h

    Sickening that 17yr-old Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir’s life has been stolen. Sending condolences to #Palestinian ppl

    Stupid Jew hating (Swift Boat)American. Americans with representatives like George Busher Sr. and Jr., Clintons and Obama cannot hide behid the but I didn’t vote for the bum excuse. Democracies and Democratic Republics don’t work that way. There is freedom of choice and collective responsibility.

  5. Israel’s Potentially Fatal Submission to “Punishment”
    Becoming a stone.

    “All people, Jews or gentiles, who dare not defend themselves when they know they are in the right, who submit to punishment not because of what they have done but because of who they are, are already dead by their own decision; and whether or not they survive physically depends on chance. If circumstances are not favorable, they end up in gas chambers.” (Bruno Bettelheim, Freud’s Vienna and Other Essays)

  6. Although the IDF boasted of 36 aerial strikes, most of the targets were offices and warehouses within one Hamas military facility, with four people slightly injured. The late hour and minimal casualties indicate that the planners waited until all Hamas personnel had left the premises to go watch Algeria’s World Cup soccer match before approving the strike.

    The immediate response of dishonest people is to deceive again. Deception of the Israeli public appears to be the default MO, the solution of first resort.. the people call for blood and the state gives them fraud.

  7. Pending investigation, one Islamic youngster abducted and killed yesterday I believe, may start something long required, albeit not to our taste.
    When a people does not have the wisdom or power to elect sound leaders many times the people itself must take command. What some like to call “take the law into their own hands”.
    Don Neyanyahu is a misfit to any role of state, save perhaps in the economics side.
    He intentionally let Iran complete its nuclear program.
    He was about to or did abandon the Negev.
    Failed miserably while dealing with the African illegal invaders.
    He clearly opted to abandon hundreds of thousands of Jews in Y & S.
    Cowardly agreed to release thousands of Islamic murderers. Many of which, as everyone knew would happen, returned to murder and violence.
    So far evidence proves that the ‘Price Tag” pranks turned by a putrid police and judicial into terror crimes, may well be a fabrication made up by the anti-Semitic “Yevsektzia” of the GSS.

    The abhorrent so called failure of the police regarding the plead of one of the kidnapped children is not but an expression of a system meant to “fail” to Jews. If not worse.
    Under those condition and the obviously non response to the children’s murders, one cannot but understand the start of vigilante actions.