Operation Pillar of Defense: What next?
With troops poised to enter the Gaza Strip perhaps this is the time for Israel to employ its exit strategy.
IDF soldiers walk to Gaza in Operation Cast Lead Photo: Ho New / Reuters
With a call up of 75,000 reservists and thousands of troops, tanks, armored vehicles, waiting to enter Gaza, the question is what next?
Following three days of Israel’s response to the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel the early assessment is that Hamas has suffered an embarrassing beating up to this point, both militarily and diplomatically.
Sounds of depression and disappointment are coming out of Gaza. Their depression is also over the fact that Israel is hitting their targets massively, with ease, and with significant effect. Up to now, Israel is achieving these results without the massive loss of life that would bring sympathy from the international community and pressure on Israel to desist.
Hamas requested that Egypt tear up its peace agreement with Israel and open the Rafah border crossing. Despite the anti-Israel bluster, and moral support for Hamas, President Morsi of Egypt did none of these things. He is under enormous pressure from the Obama Administration not to step over the line. The threat is the withholding of billions of dollars in American aid.
The Hamas rocket barrage failed to inflict heavy loss of life on Israel, or cause a break in the resolve of the residents of southern Israel. On their side, they have suffered a loss of face and a huge amount of damage to their infrastructure and terror leadership, including the total destruction of their government offices and facilities, the degrading of their long range missiles, and the identification and destruction of their drone development project.
The people of Gaza, subject to proud boasts from Hamas leaders that they will destroy ‘the Zionist entity’, now witness the impotence of their words. They see instead a leadership that keeps them prisoner in Gaza by their vacuous ambitions to defeat Israel. This latest rocket campaign has rebounded on Hamas and has cost them dearly in prestige and image.
In the military, as in business, it is always vital to have an exit strategy at hand. Israel entered into Operation Pillar of Defense to bring peace and quiet to the citizens of southern, and now central, Israel. Nothing more. They did not start the campaign with a strategy to destroy and remove Hamas, or to re-occupy Gaza. Clearly Israel has the upper hand. With troops poised to enter the Gaza Strip perhaps this is the time for Israel to employ that exit strategy.
It should tell Hamas to immediately stop all further rocket fire or face the consequences. This enables Hamas to also use it as their exit strategy. Hamas is aware of the Israeli troop build-up across its border and should be gravely concerned. With the obvious and growing military presence, Israel can tell Hamas that, if they do not stop all further violent acts, what happened to them up to now is nothing compared to what will fall on them as a result of their ongoing crimes against the citizens of Israel.
Should they continue their missile assaults against the Jewish State the Israeli government can decide to change the aims of the operation to remove Hamas from power and replace him with the Palestinian Authority to rule over Gaza. It’s better for Israel to have the PA as a buffer between them and Islamic Egypt than Hamas and Islamic Jihad.