Burning Issues #8: Should Israel invade Gaza?

On the one hand, weapons are pouring in from Egypt, on the other hand Gilad Shalit is held there.

By
October 25, 2006 12:24
masked fatah man with gun 88

masked fatah gunman 88. (photo credit: )

 
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Burning Issues brings our best opinion writers to one podium, where they respond, in brief and in real time, to a question about one of the hottest news topics on the agenda. Our aim is also to get you, our readers, involved, by sharing your opinions with the JPost community, or if you wish, by responding to any specific posting. A link to the writer's most recent column appears at the end of each posting. #7: Should President Katsav quit? #6: How should world react to N. Korean nuke test? #5: Should Israel change its system of gov't? #4: Should Israel support Abbas against Hamas? #3: Should Israel initiate talks with Syria? #2: Who is ahead, Bush or Ahmadinejad? #1: Should the Pope have apologized?

Question #8

In light of the rampant weapons smuggling between Egypt and the Gaza Strip on the one hand but also the delicate situation involving kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, who is held in Gaza, should Israel launch a large-scale offensive in the strip, similar in scope to the 2002 operation 'Defensive Shield'? Contributions by Daniel Pipes, Gershon Baskin, MJ Rosenberg, Elliot Jager, Michael Freund and Saul Singer. Elliot Jager: My gut instinct tells me it would be a mistake to launch a large-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip. The enemy would like nothing more than to tie down tens of thousands of IDF troops in the alleyways of the refugee camps and in the urban slums of Gaza. They've reportedly been training and laying traps for precisely such a step. An IDF move into Gaza would also halt the internecine warfare among the various Palestinian militias, clans, and terrorist organizations, instantly uniting them against Israel. No. We need to fight this war by exploiting our strengths not playing into enemy hands, which would have us fight in crowded cities and camps. I think what we've been doing until now in response to Palestinian aggression is roughly the right approach. We've aimed to kill Kassam launch teams and some of the people who send them. We've destroyed ammunition dumps and the factories that make the Kassams. It's frustrating that we haven't been able to stop all rocket and missile launching from Gaza. But more than 300 enemy combatants (and, regrettably, noncombatants) have been killed since Gilad Shalit was captured. I would not call that sitting on our hands. We do need to accelerate our efforts along the Philadelphi Corridor - something we've begun to do. Still, it will be an immense task to reduce the flow of weapons coming in via the tunnels from Sinai. That's because the Egyptians are part of the problem by failing to police their side of the Gaza-Sinai border. We need to be methodical and smart in dealing with Gaza; let's keep hammering away whenever an opportunity presents itself by land, sea, and air. But for now, I say no to a full-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip. Ramadan realities Daniel Pipes: The kidnapping of Gilad Shalit is a tragedy for this soldier and for his family and friends, but a soldier's predicament cannot be allowed to influence the fate of a nation. Eventually, the Israeli authorities will have to take back control of Gaza's border with Egypt and will have to intervene to prevent Gaza's further militarization, effectively reversing the IDF retreat of September 2005. No one wants this step, but it is hard to see the Palestinians controlling their aggressive impulses sufficiently so that it can be avoided. More broadly, two schools of thought exist vis- -vis Israel and the Palestinians: the majority opinion holds that Palestinians will accept Israel only when their political, economic, and other aspirations are satisfied. The minority one - mine - holds that they will accept Israel only when their will to make war has been crushed. Existing anarchy has started this process but it will be more expeditiously achieved when Israelis themselves can administer the defeat. Redeploy US troops to Iraq's desert Gershon Baskin: If Israel is interested in assuring that Gilad Shalit will be killed then the government should give the green light for a large scale offensive. I have little doubt that many people in the Israeli security establishment would much prefer a military attempt to rescue Shalit than to negotiate his release for Palestinian prisoners and even if Shalit were killed in the act, like Nachshon Wachsman was in 1994, many people would be sad but relieved. No negotiations, no peace MJ Rosenberg: By now it should be obvious that this conflict is not going to be ended through military means. That might be possible if the "enemy" was a particular regime that could be eliminated. It was possible to achieve peace with Germany in 1945 by eradicating the Nazi regime. Similarly, peace with Japan was achieved by eliminating the regime and reducing the Emperor to a figurehead. In each case, military means achieved political goals. In the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the struggle is between two peoples. It is not only Hamas that wants to end the occupation of the West Bank and establish a Palestinian state. It is 100% of the Palestinian people. And it is the Palestinian people that Israeli have to come to terms with. The only way to begin the resolution of this conflict is to resume negotiations with the Palestinians with the goal of achieving an agreement along the lines of the one that was nearly reached at Taba in 2001. That is an agreement based on compromise by both sides. Anyone who does understand this fundamental truth is blinded by ideology and should remove himself (or herself) from this discussion. In Washington: Bush's Saudi moment Michael Freund: A large-scale Israeli military operation in Gaza is long overdue. The withdrawal from Gaza last year created a vacuum that Palestinian terrorists were quick to fill, and it gave them freedom of action that they had not enjoyed previously. They have been exploiting it ever since, as evidenced by the continuing rocket fire that has been targeting Sderot, Ashkelon and the western Negev for the past 14 months. Just this past week, the IDF carried out a limited operation along the border between Gaza and Egypt during which they discovered some 15 underground tunnels that were being used to smuggle in weapons and personnel. Al-Qaeda is known to have established a presence in Gaza, and Hamas and Islamic Jihad are busy preparing for the next confrontation with the Jewish state. So instead of repeating the mistake of the Lebanon war, and giving our enemies a chance to rearm still further, Israel should move quickly and aggressively back into Gaza and dismantle the terrorist infrastructure forthwith. We must take the battle to our foes, and confront them now. It will not be easy, and it won't be pretty, but there is, quite frankly, no other choice. Right On: The coming Middle East war Saul Singer: There is not much point in launching a massive offensive in Gaza before the border between Egypt and Gaza is closed to weapons smuggling. Egypt has the power and responsibility to do this. There is no reason why Egypt cannot police its border as well as Jordan does. If Egypt acts like Syria, and allows the arming of terrorist organizations through its territory, it should be treated like Syria, and its US financial assistance should be cut. Interesting Times: Rogues' game

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