Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and other top IDF personnel in a security meeting in Tel Aviv on Sunday, November 11..
(photo credit: ARIEL HERMONI/DEFENSE MINISTRY)
An IDF operation deep inside the Gaza Strip, no matter how covert, carries with it tremendous risk. What exactly happened late Sunday night in southern Gaza
is still shrouded in mystery, but from the little detail that the IDF has permitted for publication, it seems that something in the Israeli operation went wrong.
In the days to come, Israel will face a number of challenges. One of the first will be explaining to the world why it sent troops into the Gaza Strip in the first place, especially with a cease-fire seemingly in place with the help of Qatar, which Israel permitted last week to transfer $15 million to Hamas.
What was so important that Israel was willing to endanger the cease-fire for it?
To answer that question, the IDF will have to provide some details about the operation. Was it carried out to gather intelligence, to kidnap someone, to sabotage something or to assassinate someone? The results of Sunday night’s operation won’t help Israel if the current round of violence escalates into a full-fledged war. Israel will be blamed for sparking the conflict.
The appearance on some of the late-night TV news shows of former IDF general Tal Russo, a past commander of the Southern Command with a particular expertise in commando operations, seemed like an IDF effort to change the narrative. Russo said that the operation seemed to be for the purpose of gathering intelligence, the kind, he said, that takes place all the time without the public knowing about them.
How this develops will depend to a large extent on Hamas and its response. As of three hours after the botched operation, Hamas was retaliating with rocket fire throughout the South but not farther, meaning that it could potentially decide to contain the incident with the overnight rocket attacks and end it there.
On the other hand, it could decide to continue to escalate the situation.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to cut short his trip to Paris is an indication that for Israel, anything is possible.
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