What price Gaza?

By Ted Belman

The Institute for National Securities Studies (INSS) has published a Policy Brief on the question Is an Expanded Military Operation in Gaza the Option of Choice? by Shlomo Brom. This link takes you to a comment by Dr Lerner following which is the full article.

It is an excellent analysis of the issues

The purpose of this paper is to examine whether military actions of this kind in the Gaza Strip are indeed essential, and if so, whether it is worthwhile to conduct them as soon as possible.

There are two ways to examine whether wide scale operations of this kind are necessary. One is to examine the supposition that the security and political dynamic in Israel will necessarily force the decision to carry out such operations. A second way is to examine the strategic logic of such operations. Even if the answer to the first question is in the affirmative, which means there is a high probability that the government of Israel will reach such a decision, there is still reason to undertake the second examination because it will aid in planning operations, which will serve Israel’s best interests.

It concludes that a ground operation is highly likely.

As for the strategic logic it lists the following,

    • Continued separation from the Gaza Strip population (the demographic issue) and less friction with the population
    • Ensuring normal life for the Israeli population in areas bordering Gaza
    • Strengthening Israeli deterrence, or at least maintaining it
    • Stopping the armed groups in the Gaza Strip from growing stronger, or at least curtailing them

It recognizes

    • In order to prevent rocket fire by military means, permanent military control over wide areas of Gaza will be required for the long term.
    • These areas will be expanded as the range of the rockets increases, and they are likely to include almost the entire territory of the Gaza Strip

This means that in the initial stage (of the reconquest), the military operations will result in a significant expansion of the scope of rocket fire and the damage it causes.

The Gaza Strip is a military challenge of a different kind from what the IDF faced in the West Bank just prior to Operation Defensive Shield. The Palestinian forces that confront it are on a much larger scale, with a higher level of organization, arms, and training. The physical setting is also different: a crowded urban expanse that covers a large part of the Gaza Strip. It is impossible to separate the armed elements from the population because the population has nowhere to escape to. The various groups, especially Hamas and Fatah, are now engaged in a violent confrontation, but a wide scale Israeli operation will stop the confrontation between them and unite them all in the struggle against the “Israeli invasion.” This means that the fighting will be more difficult and involve greater losses.

The problem is that the price of the operation is liable to be high, both in direct losses from the fighting and in the price the civilian population will have to pay in being subject to widespread rocket attacks for a not insignificant period of time, until the territory is taken over and cleared.

But, for this institute which is part of Tel Aviv U. and is part of the leftist establishment,

all these prices pale in comparison to a calculation of the damage that will be inflicted on the strategic objective of separation from the Palestinians, whose goal is to preserve Israel as the democratic state of the Jewish people. Israel will be drawn back into the Gaza Strip. It is also possible that the chaos that will be created in Gaza will cause the collapse of the Palestinian Authority and will require Israel to renew its military administration of the Gaza Strip, including the elements of civil administration, in order to provide services to the population. In any case, large forces will have to continue to remain within the Gaza Strip.

This is the bottom line for many in Israel particularly in the establishment. Occupation for them resembles Strindberg’s The Dance of Death.

It is the fear of occupation that lead to Israel’s defeat in the Second Lebanon War.

In the middle of the Lebanese War, I wrote No ceasefire is better than a bad ceasefire

    The prosecution of this war by Olmert’s left leaning government has been a disaster. It has been and is based on the desire to avoid another occupation. There is a belief among the left, undeterred by events, that occupation is the problem. This belief led to the signing of the disastrous Oslo Accords, the retreat from Lebanon in 2000 and the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. And finally it motivates Olmert’s convergence plan.

Having taken issue with the author in this regard, there are many valid reasons to not engage in a full operation which this briefing points out.

It boils down to this: limited operations give limited results and limited diplomatic financial and costs and reduced Israeli deaths. The opposite is true for aggressive operations.

Ultimately the decision must reflect what augers better for peace, the two state solution or a Jewish state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan.

May 27, 2007 | 7 Comments »

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7 Comments / 7 Comments

  1. there are too many conflicting forces at work in Pali territories and Gaza in particular to state with any accuracy how we can solve the problem other than by total military victory: Population of gaza has been weened for past 50 plus years on the most viriluent antisemitism, not just anti zionist but pure forms of antisemitism.Oslo and subsequent largress by israel and the west have not affected in any positive way gazan thinking and behavior toward israel or to themselves. Arab society remains basical tribal with family unit primacy then extended family, then region, then nationality, and finally religeous which covers and gives form the the previous mentioned.wehave different groups all vying for power a dozen or so fatah groups, a few hamas groupd including hamas in damascus, al queda, egyptian influence, saudi influence,jordanian infuence and iranian direct and through proxy being hizbolla. Nobody can control all these diverse factions without being of the calibre of a Sadam Hussein, This anarchy in a funy way is good for us as these diverse faction will continue to kill ea. other forever if left alone and make it obvious that no 2 state solution is possible even to the craziest lefties on the block. (Well almost all ) Quigley is basically correct without marx and trotsky. Heh socialism in any form is a dirty word and you wont get much suport for failed ideology the just about every modern and some not so modern have tossed in the trash cans of history but nevertheless he is mainy correct except it wont happen because our system and controlling forces won`t allow it to happen. Israel like most democracys lives by the credo of legislation by disaster or in this case (hard decisions made after all the easier ones failed to bring expected positive results). It aint that they dont know what has to be done its just that they feel they must try all the easier less painfull ones first. We are just beginning this process/ Its like saying how many accidents and deaths and injuries must there be before traffic lights installed on dangerous interesections of most western democratic societies. I think eventually the right decesios will be made no matter who is in power when they are convinced that there is no other way, along the way who knows maybe some strategic concepts may change with the decesion.

  2. I think this anagonizing analysis over what to do about Gaza is focusing too closely to the “trees”. We fail to grasp the essential insight of the development provided by a Hamas in Gaza. Arab Nations—-I did not say “The Arab Nation”– are being superseded by non-state actors–Hamas, Hizbullah, etc.–as proxy for the war to vanquish and eradicate Israel–the objective which has been the Arab’s overwhelming preoccupation for 60 years, without, I might add, any development in that direction to make one optimistic. Doesn’t that tell you something?

    What is actually occurring in Gaza is precisely the inverse reflection that their cause of elimination Israel is lost. It will not happen, the wished-for demise of Israel is over. Forget it. First, because Hamas and Hizbullah and others are simply never going to be a power large or strong enough to do the job. Israel can squash and completely defeat them in a matter of days whenever the proper moment arrives If all the Arab States combined cannot defeat the world’s fourth largest military power, do you really think Hamas and Hizbullah will succeed in defeating Israel. They are, at best, an annoyance to Israel which is why Israel does nothing to stop them–they believe, with some justification, Hamas and Hizbullah will destroy themselves. The world is becoming sufficiently tired of the mess the Palestinians have created for themselves and no end of financial or humanitarian assistance seems to make any difference to their fortunes or prospects for survival. There will not be 2 states, living side-by-side if Hamas and Hizbullah have any say in the matter. They have had the courage to say that themselves, which only goes to announce and ensure their eventual elimination.

    It is too late for 2 states as usually conceived for that to happen. Besides, don’t be fooled, even the Arab states–the “systems” –do not want to see another Arab State created in the Middle East. A Palestinian State, if it were created, would be an economic basket case, which it is right now. The three most important Arab states that have already recognized Israel–Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia–are the decision makers in the Middle East in regard to peace in the Middle East. Egypt wanted the Sinai back so they recognized Israel. Jordan has always been overly eager to get the West Bank back someday –which will , of course–never happen– so they recognized Israel. Wait, you say. Saudi Arabia — the officials of the close-knit family-tribe who have become the keepers of the artifacts of the Faith–has not recognized Israel. No? Don’t be fooled. When King Abdullah and George Bush walk hand-in-hand at the Texas ranch and one needs the other for oil and the other for protection of its Kingdom you can take it as an unwritten understanding that the Saudis have recognized Israel, it’s contributions to “charities” notwithstanding, to confuse the uninformed.

    The time to have created a Palestinian State of some realistic form was while Arafat was in charge. The ball was dropped. The mis-named game of “Palestinian Nationalism” is over.

    Perhaps in a little while we shall now be able to settle down to peace in the Middle East once we recognize Gaza is not the problem. It’s the West Bank that is the “order of Battle”. Israel must end the occupation in the West Bank forthwith in only one way, and that is not by retreat. First, Israel must annex the West bank to ensure the nation’s survival. Annex everything from the river to the sea and be done with it. The world will get used to it. Western nations will ululate, the Arabs will experience another Nakba, Saudi Arabia will make more money, and the world will go on very nicely, thank you. Second, transfer the Arabs to Arab nations must take place quickly. Do not ask for permission from any source, especially the United States.

    Then, and only then can attention be given to pacify Gaza, firmly and decisively, provided it is considered wise not to annex that misbegotton land since it’s ownership by Israel will not contribute anything of any consequence. The Arabs can have it as a consolation – all those cowardly Israelis and Arabs who have worked to undermine Israrel so that a Palestinian state can be created will now have what they have wanted. That becomes at long last the solution to the creation of 2 states,living side-by-side. A state for Arabs called Gaza and a state for Jews called Israel.

    That’s how I see it.

  3. If I can just add a little to my remarks above on the issue of the IDF and the experience of the Lebanon War last summer.

    There was certainly no lacking in expertise of the individual soldier, and of course of courage and committment on the part of the IDF youth and the Jewish population at large, who supported the war so forcefully that all of the Israeli peaceniks were totally isolated.

    The weakness was a political weakness.

    This may throw some light on this. Just over the past couple of weeks I have been reading a book on Leon Trotsky called, I think, “Trotsky, eternal revolutionary.” It is fairly recent.

    What got my attention and is relevant here was that Trotsky, as being the main originator of the Red Army in the Civil War which engulfed Russia from about November 1917, but certainly in the period after the spring of 1918, when as many as 14 armies invaded from abroad…still Trotsky never took operational decisions in the ongoing warfare. In other words he was not a qualified general.

    But he was everywhere in the war, and his role was entirely in the field of politics. He made sure that the communist soldiers knew that they were fighting for a cause, and he took decisions of a political nature, some of them very tough decisions, including the execution of traitors to the cause.

    It was the political side that was severely lacking in the Lebanon War.

    The poor Israeli soldiers must wonder what it is they are really fighting for…Is it a “Palestinian” state…must be and have been in their minds…such is the treacherous role of Israeli governance.

    Until that is put right then you cannot really expect victories, because the situation calls for revolutionary soldiers who believe in their cause.

    We have to urgently acquire a new leadership in Israel. Imagine the situation where just yesterday Hamas bragged that they would kill Shalid if Israel harmed a Hamas leader, and judge for yourself what the response of Israel must be on that issue alone.

    On the basis of that single threat to this hostage then Israel should destroy Palestinianism in total, not just Hamas but all aspects of Fatah Arafatism. It should not rush. It should take its time and do the job right. But it Israel must have a leadership which is bold enough, ie revolutionary, to state to the world that this is its clear and irreconcilable intention.

    You can see in this thinking why I continually emphasise that it is so important for Israel as an independent nation to spiritually stand on its own feet, because essentially we have come to understand that “Palestinianism” is the creation first of Britain, and then of the US elitist Governments. So it IS a revolutionary task that the Jewish people face.

  4. As we know the issue centres on the seemingly eternal antisemitism in the whole of the world. There are two approaches really, and only two, to this phenomenon. 1. Is that nothing can be done about antisemitism and so since Israel will be condemned anyway then just go ahead and make war on Palestinianism the way it should be done, ie all out. and 2. that something can be done about antisemitism and it must urgently be done but the second part remains the same…Israel must go into all out war with all aspects of Palestinianism.

    So what can be done about antisemitism?

    The first step must surely to create a new leadership in Israel that is quite different to what has been in place right from the time of the creation of Israel under Ben Gurion. What type of leadership this will be or needs to be? This is what we are discussing. I believe that it must be a revolutionary socialist leadership, directed especially towards the youth of Israel, but based on a dialectical materialist understanding of not only the present capitalist crisis world wide, but also based on the role of the Jewish faith in the human story, especially its relationship to the ordinary people through the ages, a positive legacy. So unlike the Bolsheviks it must be respectful towards Judaism and even learn from it.

    (In this regard I repeat myself but feel it is necessary to draw attention to the developing thought of Leon Trotsky in this regard. His name has been much vilified but my researches have led me to conclude and state definitively that this massive historical figure had become a Zionist and an advocate for a Jewish state in Palestine, at all costs.)

    A big part of its remit will be to wage war on the socialist revisionists who are lining up with the Fascists of Iran, with the Fascists of South America, (Chavez) and with the Palestinian Fascists. This therefore requires a mammoth struggle (outside of Israel too) and as long as this is not carried out then it will be very difficult to fight Israel’s case.

    Basically in that regard we need to have a revolutionary party in Israel.

    There is no gap between revolutionary politics and revolutionary warfare. Although there may be times when it is necessary to build up and to consolidate or fortify. I think that we are at that stage and there must be time made for this. There needs consequently to be a reorganization of the army, the IDF, based on revolutionary principles.

    The clear aim must be instilled in every soldier that they are fighting for an Israel which is defensible. This means that there will never be any Palestinian state (perhaps on certain guarded conditions autonomy) and that the Jordan River, the Med Sea and the Judean and Golan Heights are Jewish.

    War must be made at once on Hamas to retake Gaza because it is quite impossible to defend Jewish lives from Hamas rocket attacks.

    It is clear to me that the present ambassadorial setup which Israel uses is quite insufficient and insignificant. In Ireland the courageous Israeli ambassador is swamped by the antisemitism of those revisionist socialists, renegades from socialism, and other fascists, and he needs urgently the assistance of a new revolutionary party in Ireland. It must be the same in all countries.

    So this issue of the defence of Israel is in essence not only a political, theoretical and propagandist issue but is also a practical issue of the first kind.

    But Israel must attack the Palestinianism without delay. It is up to true socialists and other principled people internationally to rally to the cause of Israel. And on time. This gives an urgency to our work and discussions which must not end in words.

  5. No Jewish government wishes to relinquish the moral high ground. The easiest way to handle this mess is to bomb the hell out of Gaza without an invasion. This procedure has the following benefits:

    It saves the lives of Israeli soldiers.
    It prevents re-occupation.
    It weakens the resolve of the enemy in the short run.
    It provides a level playing field.
    It permits the use of weapons that will destroy stockpiles of arms.
    It returns the idea of deterrence to the Arab mind in the long run.

    The disadvantages are:

    World condemnation.
    Crosses lines that would make it easier for the enemy to use WMD.
    Risks intelligence assets.

    Except for the good will of the intelligence assets, my take is that it is better to bomb the hell out of them.

  6. Brom’s anaylsis, apart from being difficult to get through with his on the one hand and then on the other hand thought process and fuzzy logic to boot, is premised on the sanctity of the two state solution and that Gaza and the West Bank some day, some how will come under the exclusive sovereign jurisdiction of the Palestinians.

    Brom also seems to be suggesting that if Hamas can be contained and then crippled, then Fatah will rise and Israel will have a more realistic opportunity to come to final terms. What Brom fails to consider is that in taking action to stop Hamas’ rocket attacks, because of the high density population of Gaza, non combatant Palestinians will be killed and injured. He further fails to consider that with Palestinian civilian deaths, whatever anger there might be within the civilian population of Gaza against Hamas will be short term and the thirst for vengeance and revenge will once again be directed at Israel.

    Palestinian leadership, be it Hamas or Fatah have always used Jew hatred to rally Palestinians to ignore the failings of Palestinian leadership and focus on blaming Israel for all their misery and the Palestinian dream of destroying Israel. Should Hamas somehow be weakened and Fatah rise, it won’t take long before the Palestinians forgive and forget the evil of Hamas and focus their anger and hatred towards Israel and the Jews.

    Brom’s analysis is muddled.

  7. From Dr. Aaron Lerner – IMRA:

    Shalom Brom has been advocating the “Oslo religion” of withdrawal for years and in this article demonstrates how a “true believer” can deal even with a reality that flies in the face of the policies he holds so near and dear to his heart.

    Brom soberly presents the reality that only a massive operation in the Gaza Strip followed up for a continuous operating presence would actually work but then recovers his bearings by inculcating that holy “demographic issue”.

    Brom, of course, won’t explain that the validity of the “demographic issue” (given one rejects the copious evidence that accurate demographic projections are hardly as terrifying as withdrawal advocates claim) hinges on the assertion that Palestinian self determination must be achieved by their voting for the leadership of a sovereign Palestinian state rather than a Palestinian autonomy. But since the “demographic issue” has been the argument of last resort for withdrawal (arguing that withdrawal brings peace and security is so preposterous that it is rarely relied upon in a policy debate) one cannot expect him to undermine it.

    After genuflecting before the holy “demographic issue” Brom starts to regain his confidence – playing fast and lose with the facts to bolster his faith based policy recommendations.

    A few examples:

    “From this point of view the IDF’s action following Gilad Shalit’s kidnapping is a positive model. It exacted a heavy price from Hamas and motivated the organization to return to maintaining the limited ceasefire.” – Shalit is still being held and Hamas used proxies to fire rockets they supplied while they themselves continued to smuggle in weapons, manufacture rockets and otherwise prepare for war. That’s what Brom calls “positive”

    “Experience has shown that intensive diplomatic activity vis-a-vis Egypt motivates it to undertake more vigorous action and helps to limit smuggling from Sinai to Gaza.” – Experience has shown that Egypt undertakes a few photo ops in response to diplomatic activity while at the same time the bulk of the smuggling continues.”

    It is important to read articles such a Shlomo Brom’s piece because it serves as an important reminder to those who think that reality in and of itself can serve to clear out dogmatic policy recommendations.

    It doesn’t.

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