The IDF withdrew from Gaza because Hamas demanded it

DEBKA

Israel and a Palestinian delegation to talks in Cairo, including Hamas, were due to start observing a 72-hour ceasefire in the Gaza Strip starting Tuesday, Aug. 5, at 8 a.m., to be followed by negotiations under Egyptian aegis for a long-term cessation of hostilities.

This decision flies in the face of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s solemn pledge 48 hours earlier to continue Operation Defensive Edge until Hamas and its terrorist allies stopped firing rockets (a massive barrage was fired up to five minutes to eight).

He stated that Israel was turning away from ceasefire accords, which Hamas had violated six times causing IDF fatalities, and reserving its military and diplomatic freedom of action to act solely in its own security interests. “No accommodation, only deterrence” was the motto of the moment Saturday night, Aug. 2.

Even as he spoke, the bulk of Israel’s ground troops were on their way out of the Gaza Strip. But he assured the public that they were regrouping and refreshing ranks for a new, offensive formation that would stand ready to cross back in a trice if necessary.

But already then, the prime minister had quietly conceded to the demands of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and US Foreign Secretary John Kerry to withdraw IDF contingents from the Gaza Strip. This was in obedience to Hamas’ precondition for talks, following which Israeli envoys would present themselves in Cairo for indirect negotiations on a long-term accommodation with Hamas through Egyptian intermediaries.

The slogan designed for the goal of these talks was now: “Rehabilitation in exchange for demilitarization.”

By Monday, when the ceasefire deal was already in the bag, the prime minister, defense minister Moshe Ya’alon and a group of senior officers led by Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, met the community leaders of the 250,000 Israelis whose homes and lands abut the Gaza Strip. They promised the communities that, for the first time in 13 years, they would be safe from Palestinian rocket fire.

The IDF would build a new security fence enclosing Gaza like the barrier along the Egyptian border and instal a home guard system backed by electronic sensors and other gadgets in all their communities.

Doubters, who wondered how a fence would stop rockets and the underground terror tunnels burrowed surreptitiously under their homes, were not heeded. By then, tens of thousands of reservists called up for the Gaza war were being released and columns of tanks and heavy equipment were heading north.

The military traffic rolling away from the Gaza Strip was so heavy Monday night that the police issued a notice to civilian drivers using those roads.

When the 72-hour ceasefire was announced after midnight Monday, a “high-ranking Israel official” noted that if the ceasefire holds, an Israeli military presence in Gaza will not be necessary. He said Israel had upheld its commitment not to accept ceasefire deal with Hamas, so long as it was accompanied by preconditions and until the terror tunnels were dismantled. The 32nd tunnel was destroyed Monday night, he announced, and the work would continue henceforth on the Israeli side of the border.

A former National Security Adviser Gen (res) Giora Eiland, summed up the month-long Israeli military offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip as a draw between the two adversaries, with neither side the winner. This judgment, shared by many military experts contradicted the way the operation’s outcome is presented by the prime minister and defense minister who directed it. They describe Hamas as reeling from the heavy damage the IDF wrought to its military machine and weakened enough to be finished off at the negotiating table in Cairo.

Israel reckons that around 50 percent of the 1,867 Gazans estimated killed and 9,500 injured in the operation were Hamas or Islamic Jihad fighters.

The damage was undoubtedly heavy, but still Hamas has come out of the Israeli offensive standing on its feet, an outcome that will have profound political and security ramifications upon and beyond the forthcoming Cairo negotiations.

The reality facing Israel’s war planners at home is also grim: For the first time, the country comes out of a major conflict with a domestic refugee problem.  Longtime inhabitants of the region around the Gazan border who have lost homes, property or livelihood have nothing to return to after the ceasefire.
There are no official figures for Israel’s internal refugee problem, but it is believed that up to half of the quarter of a million people inhabiting 57 communities, many of them kibbutzim and private farms, who fled during the hostilities, may refuse to return.

While many endured 13 years of on-and-off rocket fire, they are consumed by the dread of Hamas terrorists jumping out of tunnels in their fields, classrooms or kitchens.

They point to negative side of the IDF official statement: “We have destroyed all the tunnels we know about” as being far from an ironclad guarantee to have obliterated that menace. And the rockets never let up for a single day in the month-long IDF operation – 3,300 in all.

Israel’s first ghost villages are clearly visible to the enemy and no doubt chalked up on the credit side of the Hamas war ledger.

Haim Yelin, head of the Eshkol District Council said Monday that 75 percent of the frontline population has moved north. He said he believes the assurances he received from Netanyahu and Ya’alon that the IDF has solved the tunnel threat and would provide the communities with protection against new tunnels. But he said, people are no longer willing to live under the threat of terrorist rocket fire, which they don’t believe has been finally curbed.

This credibility gap is part of the general unease over the outcome of this long-delayed counter-terror operation. It started out with 86 percent of the population canvassed holding high hopes of curing the festering terrorist woe emanting from the Gaza Strip. But now, Israel’s leaders, no less than Hamas, face a rehabilitation challenge – not just the reconstruction of damaged businesses, farms and buildings, but also of faith in government.

August 5, 2014 | 18 Comments »

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18 Comments / 18 Comments

  1. People will go home to the south. Naturally the sight of terrorists popping up out of the ground is very scary. If quiet returns for a sustained period the southern residents are going back. The IDF is staying in greater force near Gaza in the event a tunnel was not found yet. More security measures are on the way.

  2. yamit82 Said:

    Ted my lat comment response to mrg3105 was spammed by your filter pls retrieve and post.

    Maybe the filter thinks you’re boring, Cowboy !!!!!

  3. SHmuel HaLevi 2 Said:

    The “CEASE FIRE” conceptziah is what is the pits.

    Dr. Mordechai Kedar:

    “We in the West often delude ourselves into believing that all cultures have exactly the same goals (peace, prosperity, freedom) and exactly the same values (human life, honesty, human rights). And although all of these goals and values are undoubtedly part of every human culture, not all cultures value them to the same degree that we do in the West.”

    Israeli professor’s ‘rape as terror deterrent statement draws ire
    “The only thing that deters a suicide bomber is the knowledge that if he pulls the trigger or blows himself up, his mother and sister will be raped,” says Bar-Ilan University professor.

  4. @ yamit82:
    Even if I had them, I wouldn’t post them here. However, its more word of mouth in defence industry. I’m in the wrong sector of it to know

  5. The tunnels have multiple entrance and exit ports.
    As to Iron Home, it has matured nicely and while shedding the mortars as objective it maximized the strategic rockets targeting. I have no information about sales as of now.
    Also the electronic screening of some of our tanks is a success.

    The “CEASE FIRE” conceptziah is what is the pits.

  6. Phoenix, I was commenting on th earticle content, not anyone’s intellect

    No, it would not be an accurate statement.
    Tunnels are built over years sure, but their network design has to be studied for Intelligence-gathering activities. It was in Israel’s interests to allow these tunnels to be built…to a certain point. That point was reached three months ago that triggered planning of their physical destruction.

    Its the reason Israel also leads in the area of cyber-crime. They don’t go after just a single offender but the entire network.

  7. @ mrg3105:

    In case people don’t read what the IDF spokesperson has been saying for weeks, these are TUNNELS. In case you don’t understand what tunnels are for, and capable of doing, here is a place to start education

    Boy am I glad I came to THE source of enlightenment…
    Could you kindly throw a few crumbs to the unwashed masses, just to clarify one point:
    It would be a good assumption I think that the construction of these tunnels (thank you! We actually managed to figure out on our own what they are for..) did not start last month, nor last year, nor…the year before that…
    In fact, their construction, was not exactly a well kept secret…
    The construction of such tunnels requires ehm … Building materials?… that came from Israel…??

    Would it be an accurate statement that ‘elements’ in Israel have FACILITATED by omission and commission the construction of these tunnels?

  8. This is a really misinformed article.
    The rockets are not a problem, in fact they are a solution.
    Israel has been able to market the Iron Dome technology on the very quiet, aiding the economy.
    The need to stop military activity was economic, not political. When IDF goes to war, part of its economy goes to war also, and that, unlike for HAMAS, has a cost.
    The unwritten motto of the IDF is “A short war is a good war”.

    The real problem was the destruction of serious Hamas offensive capabilities. In case people don’t read what the IDF spokesperson has been saying for weeks, these are TUNNELS. In case you don’t understand what tunnels are for, and capable of doing, here is a place to start education http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunnelling_companies_of_the_Royal_Engineers#Remains_and_memorial

    A single tunnel, reaching under an Israeli settlement of town could produce more casualties than all the rockets fired from Gaza since 2005.
    There is no easy solution to the Tunnels. IDF deploys seismic equipment that is sensitive enough to detect digging, but the best way to destroy them is to actually go to the start of the tunnel and blow it up.

    Of course it doesn’t help if the entrance to a tunnel is located inside a health clinic.

  9. @ SHmuel HaLevi 2:

    COGAT has resumed business as usual even as the war was winding down and the Israeli elite has quietly dropped its declared aversion to doing a deal with Hamas. But don’t worry; Netanyahu knows how to spin.

  10. Credibility gap some call it… The item is a congenital liar. Of course he run as demanded by Obama and Hamas. Netanyahu never intended any different.
    Hamas or some other label fronted Islamic gang of beasts will disarm? O pleeease!
    After milking one and all from billions they will be ready to join Hezbollah as equals or far better.
    Don’t worry, Israel? will increase the flow of free electricity, water, fuel, medical care and enable them to resupply, provide food, services and help.
    We won!

  11. Haim Yelin, head of the Eshkol District Council said Monday that 75 percent of the frontline population has moved north. He said he believes the assurances he received from Netanyahu and Ya’alon that the IDF has solved the tunnel threat and would provide the communities with protection against new tunnels. But he said, people are no longer willing to live under the threat of terrorist rocket fire, which they don’t believe has been finally curbed.

    If Hamas is not defeated,and so many Israelis are afraid to live close to Gaza, what is the purpose of stopping this war without victory?

  12. BB was too cowardly to defeat Hamas but has managed to depopulate the South of Israel along the border with Gaza.

    BB is the equivalent of a Jewish Ebola virus.