Hamas has found a weak point in Israeli deterrence by using low-grade violence short of war, former IDF intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said Monday, following a rocket attack from Gaza into the Ramat Hasharon area.
Yadlin – currently the director of the Institute for National Security Studies – wrote on Twitter that Hamas has figured out that when it provokes Israel with low-grade violence on the border or with a small number of rocket or mortar attacks, Israel is uncertain how to react, because it does not want to go to war.
In order to stop Hamas’s use of violence against Israel, he said that the IDF must counter-strike against the terrorist group in a much more painful manner.
This is the only way it can motivate Hamas to restrain itself and send a clearer message to other Gaza terrorist groups that uncoordinated attacks on Israel will also lead to grave consequences.
In a recent exchange of force between Israel and Hamas, a reportedly small cell fired two rockets on Tel Aviv against orders from central authorities. Israel responded with around 100 air strikes, but without killing any Hamas members.
The former IDF intelligence chief highlighted that after the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that he would not have captured Israeli soldiers and their bodies if he had known that the IDF would strike back so strongly, leading to war.
Yadlin said that the IDF must create the same expectations for Hamas, so that it will not dare to risk a general war with Israel and will avoid even lower-level violence.
Since at least last spring, Hamas adopted a constant low-level violence strategy in which it tries to keep the pressure on Israel with border clashes, fire kites and occasionally looking the other way when other Gaza terrorist groups fire rockets.
It’s strategy was designed to coax Israel into concessions regarding opening up Gaza more economically to the rest of the world, while not angering Jerusalem so much that the situation might escalate to war.
Yadlin added that a change in military deterrence strategy needs to be accompanied by a new thrust in diplomacy and in improving the Palestinians’ economic conditions.
He also criticized the current government’s strategy of trying to keep two separate, weak Palestinian authorities with no diplomatic horizon, while grasping at the delusion that this strategy can continue without costing Israel anything.