|An Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip 370 (R).(Photo by: Suhaib Salem / Reuters)|
Only disproportionate deterrence will offset Hamas
By ISI LEIBLER
Candidly Speaking: There must be a clear understanding that any breach would result in harsh “disproportionate” Israeli responses including the targeted killings of those responsible for initiating attacks.
The Jewish state was created to overcome powerlessness and provide a haven for
Jews – not to have them cringing in shelters.
There had previously been
considerable criticism of the government for its failure to adequately respond
to the ongoing toll inflicted on over a million Israeli citizens obliged to
endure thousands of missiles launched against them at the whim of a loathsome
neighboring terrorist state. We had tired of hearing successive Israeli leaders
repeatedly expressing empty threats and chanting the mantra: “this is
intolerable and unacceptable and must stop.”
Hamas is no longer a
It is in every respect an independent state the
majority of whose citizens enthusiastically support the terrorist initiatives
and missile launches initiated by its evil leaders, who are committed to our
The situation deteriorated with the rise to power in Egypt
of the Muslim Brotherhood, the creators of Hamas.
Since then, the
Egyptian authorities stood by as Hamas accumulated vast quantities of
sophisticated missiles and other lethal weapons including guided anti-tank
missiles and shoulder- mounted anti-aircraft weapons from Iran, Libya Sudan and
That explains why, despite awareness that Operation Pillar
of Defense may escalate into full-scale war, all sections of Israeli society
fervently support the IDF operation. It is also gratifying that Jews throughout
the world are actively demonstrating solidarity with Israel.
emboldened to test our resolve, believing that Israel would be fearful of
confronting the new Egyptian regime and also encouraged by the active support
from the Turkish government and the recent visit to Gaza of the emir of Qatar,
who contributed $400 million to their coffers.
Israel was indeed
sensitive to these issues, as well as the effect of a military conflict
diverting attention from Iran – especially now as it proceeds with its uranium
enrichment. There was also concern at the civil war in Syria and the dramatic
rise of Islamic extremism throughout the region. To top it off there were
inhibitions because of the US presidential elections.
By intensifying the bombardment of the South, it obliged
the State of Israel to respond harshly or forfeit any modicum of
The initial outcome was good. The IDF had clearly learned
from the lessons of previous wars: intelligence was impeccable; action was
systematic and rational with, to date, minimal civilian casualties.
must be stressed that the targeted killings of terrorist leaders are not acts of
revenge or showmanship. They are logical military actions which can be
rationally justified in moral terms.
The killing of Ahmad Jabari,
regarded as the Palestinian counterpart of Osama bin Laden, is a prime
Unlike US drone attacks on al-Qaida and the Taliban, the IDF
succeeded in avoiding collateral casualties.
The global response from
most Western countries, which followed President Obama’s lead condemning the
rocket attacks and endorsing Israel’s right to self-defense, has until now been
satisfactory, despite the usual calls for restraint and for Israel to act in a
But these are early days. Initially, we are
unlikely to face problems at the UN Security Council. However, the General
Assembly and UN Human Rights Council, controlled by Islamic and other
anti-Israeli coalitions, have consistently viewed Israel as the aggressor and
never the victim. Neither of these bodies has even once condemned the Hamas
missile attacks and there is little doubt that they and NGO bodies such as
Amnesty International will blame Israel exclusively for reigniting the armed
In addition, while the IDF is taking extraordinary precautions
to minimize civilian casualties, there will invariably, as in any military
conflict, be mishaps – especially in Gaza where Hamas ruthlessly employ human
shields by locating armaments and launching missiles in civilian residential
areas. In addition, our enemies have already circulated bogus images of
Palestinian civilian casualties, highlighting infants allegedly killed by
Israel. As in the past, these gruesome images will be exploited to pressure
Israel to back down.
And while the Iron Dome anti-rocket shield has been
highly successful in largely protecting the major Israeli cities, there have
already been tragic casualties and regrettably more are likely if hostilities
continue to escalate and impact on the home front.
Clearly, the IDF would
prefer to limit the conflict to pinpointed aerial strikes. However, if Hamas
continue raining rockets against Israeli civilians, Israel will be forced into a
ground offensive in which greater casualties are inevitable.
challenge for the government is to devise an end strategy to achieve long-term
deterrence as well as a strategy to be implemented instantly should Hamas become
sufficiently re-emboldened to recommence missile launches.
Israel has no
desire to return to the era of the tit-for-tat war of attrition whereby we
respond to missile launches by bombing rocket launching sites and empty
Although some of our allies are already urging us not to
respond “disproportionately,” such a concept has absolutely no relevance to the
threat facing Israel. While still seeking to minimize civilian casualties, we
must create genuine deterrence in order to avoid future full-scale conflicts of
ever increasing magnitude. In fact, a disproportionate response to aggression is
fully consistent with international law in which the prime obligation of the
state is to protect its civilians.
Those seeking to deny us this basic
right are maliciously hypocritical.
The issue of Israel continuing to
provide Hamas-controlled Gaza with services is another bizarre anomaly. It is
one thing to be sensitive to the humanitarian needs of civilian noncombatants,
but to continue providing electricity and other utilities to a neighboring state
raining missiles on us is utterly perverse. If the lights went out automatically
every time a rocket was dispatched, the inconvenienced Gaza residents might even
influence their leaders to hesitate before launching missiles.
intensive government campaign must be implemented to counter the impact of
successive years of the world having become conditioned to regarding Israel
under missile attacks as normative. We must highlight the fact that such attacks
against civilians are unequivocally war crimes.
Would the US respond
“proportionately” if 50 million Americans were under missile attack from Mexico
or Canada for a decade? Or if France faced such bombardment from Belgium or
Luxemburg? No other state in the world would tolerate this and we must
demonstrate that a policy of “restraint,” far from reflecting strength, displays
weakness and emboldens our evil neighbors to intensify their attacks.
must recognize that in future conflicts, the terrorists will continue
accumulating more effective and lethal weapons to employ against us.
must therefore endeavor to resist calls for a cease-fire until such time as
Hamas, in conjunction with the Egyptians, undertake to cease their
There must be a clear understanding that any breach would
result in harsh “disproportionate” Israeli responses including the targeted
killings of those responsible for initiating attacks. In the absence of such an
agreement an enforced cease-fire will be perceived as a major victory for Hamas
and our citizens will simply return to the life of terror they endured since the
first Kassams were launched a decade ago.
The writer’s website can be
viewed at www.wordfromjerusalem.com. He may be contacted at