The current escalation of violence in the South is an effort by both sides to create new “Gaza rules,” Yossi Kuperwasser said on Tuesday morning.
Kuperwasser, a retired brigadier general, former director general of strategic affairs and former head of the IDF Intelligence research and assessment division, said during a briefing organized by The Israel Project that neither side wants to see a widescale escalation – as evident by recent efforts to reach a “regularization” of the situation. But on the other hand, each side wants to determine that “the rules of the game from here on will be acceptable for its own needs.”
Kuperwasser said the IDF military operation -- that was not intended to be lethal -- that went wrong in Gaza
on Sunday - that was not intended to be lethal, but went wrong and led to the death of one IDF officer and seven Palestinians – triggered Palestinian efforts to send a message that they will not tolerate such operations in the future.
“And the way they do it,” he said, “is shooting at civilians in a totally indiscriminate manner. Israel has to protect itself against this attack on civilians, and wants to send a message to Hamas and other groups in Gaza that this is unacceptable and cannot be the rules in the future.
Kuperwasser added: “This is a battle over what kind of rules we will have from now on,” adding that there is also the issue of “pride” among the Palestinians who want to make sure “they leave a mark.”
He said the competing factions inside Gaza are encouraging each other “to be more committed to the launching of the rockets.”
Kuperwaser, speaking as the security cabinet convened to decide on Israel’s response
to an unprecedented 400 rockets fired at the country in some 16 hours
, said that this places pressure on the government to decide whether it will continue with the same pattern of “short flare ups followed by a temporary quiet, or whether Israel should do something more profound and change the situation in Gaza.”
Among the lessons that Israel has to learn from recent events is that all of the factions in Gaza have “ample amounts of rockets,” and that this is something that “Israel cannot tolerate for a long time, and at the end will have to do something about,” he said.
The dilemma, he said, is that Israel always asks itself, “what is the alternative?” Hamas, he stressed, uses the Gaza population as human shields, and no one has convinced them to “care about their own population.” As a result, “it is very difficult to convince them to [support] a situation that promotes peace and security for Gaza, and security for Israel.”
Regarding the Corent anti-tank missile that hit a bus on Monday
, critically injuring one soldier, Kuperwasser said that much of the weaponry in Gaza – still being smuggled through tunnels from Egypt – is coming from Iran, which he said is “deeply involved” in support of Hamas and other factions inside Gaza, especially the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The bus was full of soldiers who disembarked just before it was hit.
Some of the weaponry is being smuggled in, and some of it is being produced in a local “military industry,” he said. “We do not control the Egyptian border, and that is the Achilles’ heel of this system.”
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