A view from Israel: Leading by example

The recent suspension of tax transfers to the PA and renewed construction in the West Bank are a step in the right direction, but now it's time for Israel's leaders to set a long-overdue example for the world on how to deal properly with terrorism.

November 4, 2011 16:58
4 minute read.
IDF soldier walks in front of tank on Gaza border

Soldier Tank Gaza 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Finally Israel’s leaders are beginning to get down to business. After the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) accepted the Palestinian Authority’s bid to become its 195th member, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced the suspension of tax transfers to the PA and renewed construction in the West Bank – measures that targeted the two issues critical to the PA.

This is a good start, but these are political decisions designed to punish the PA for their inaction on the peace process front and their blatant efforts to create a Palestinian state unilaterally.

On the Gaza front, Israel faces a military dilemma. And as much as there are numerous geopolitical concerns involved, such as the question of Egypt’s new relationship with Israel and the region, the Arab Spring and its repercussions on the international level, Israel has done little in the face of incessant, unrelenting rocket and mortar attacks.

Since 2001, Israelis have lived under siege from rocket fire emanating from the Gaza Strip.

In the last week alone, over 60 rockets and mortars have been fired at Israeli communities.

And since the end of Operation Cast Lead in 2009, 550 rockets and 359 mortar shells have been fired into the country.

Instead of firing back or launching another ground operation, Israel has remained muted, issuing an occasional threat of escalation while sporadically sending in the air force to bomb some irrelevant targets.

On Tuesday, Israel delayed a military operation in the Gaza Strip to stem Palestinian rocket fire, due to an Egyptian request to allow an additional 24 hours for cease-fire efforts.

If Hamas continues to target civilians with sustained rocket fire, Israel absolutely must retaliate in the strongest sense possible.

Would any country react as Israel currently does under sustained rocket fire? The answer is a clear and resounding “no.”

Israel is the only country in the world that must deal with this type of warfare, and it is time for its leaders to set a long-overdue example for the world on how to deal properly with terrorism.

It is easy to strike low-level targets such as empty buildings, training camps, rocket launch sites and low-ranking terrorists, but this is not how Israel will succeed in its war against terror.

Israel must use terrifying force against Hamas. The IAF needs to destroy every existing tunnel along the Philadelphi Corridor on the border between Egypt and Gaza, pursue and kill as many terrorist leaders as possible and ultimately send a message that terrorism will be met with force, not timidity.

Israel must deny terrorists the ability to live regular lives, driving them into hiding and disrupting their ability to easily orchestrate terror attacks.

The world would scream and holler, but Israel has the authorization, according to all international human rights laws, to defend itself.

While it is the UN that often assists terror in Gaza, it is also Article 51 of the UN Charter that stipulates Israel’s justification to respond to Hamas-led terrorism.

The article states, “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.”

The first half of the article applies to Israel’s situation vis-à-vis Hamas, and the second part of the article will never be relevant anyway, given the UN’s poor history of maintaining peace and security anywhere.

The laws of jus ad bellum, or justification for war, require that states have just cause to go to war and that they respect the rationale of distinction and proportionality.

Israel must never indiscriminately target civilians, nor can it ever carpet bomb Gaza. Cutting off all electricity and fuel to Gaza would likely be considered excessive force and collective punishment, so this is an option Israel would be less inclined to pursue.

But there are ways of abiding by the laws of war while achieving the necessary results in eradicating terrorism to the fullest extent possible.

Through careful planning and accurate intelligence, Israel can carry out sustained attacks against the leaders of all terrorist organizations, slowly chipping away at their infrastructure until no one is left to lead.

The use of force in Gaza would drastically minimize, if not completely eliminate, the constant barrage of rockets directed daily at millions of innocent Israeli men, women and children.

The short-term results will be immediately evident in the smaller number of rocket attacks, while the long-term result will make itself apparent as terrorist groups struggle to carry out attacks without strong leaders or weapons tunnels from Egypt.

On the media front, Israel should forbid any and all military personnel to make public statements, and instead send professional spokesmen, fluent in English and well-versed in the laws of international warfare, to discuss the country’s actions.

Israel needs to demonstrate to the world that capitulation to terrorism does not vanquish. Only unrelenting force can achieve victory over terrorism.

If Israel can show resolve with regard to the PA’s unilateral actions, it can surely show the same tenacity in a confrontation with an equally, if not more, dangerous organization vowing to wipe Israel off the map.

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