eiland 248.88 .
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
The Israeli leadership presented incoherent, even contradictory goals from the start for Operation Cast Lead, and that's why there is a growing sense of uncertainty about how it is unfolding.
This is the view of the former national security adviser and former head of the IDF's Planning and Operation branches Giora Eiland.
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Eiland told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that it made no sense to set, as goals of the operation, the need both to deter Hamas from firing rockets into Israel and to remove Hamas's capacity to fire.
"If the idea is to deter attacks, then you don't need a ground operation," said Eiland. "If, however, you want to destroy Hamas's ability to fire rockets, then you need to invade Gaza," he said. "The problem here is that the political establishment has not decided which course it wants to follow."
"You can reach a situation where Hamas is sufficiently deterred. Or you can invade Gaza, with greater risks and casualties. But there's really nothing in between. And it's hard for the political echelon to accept that."
Eiland said an agreement that binds Hamas "could be reached tomorrow" and would hold for months, and probably much longer, since the Arab states and Turkey would be pressing Hamas to honor it. But Prime Minister Ehud Olmert "doesn't want this, because it would legitimize Hamas," said Eiland.
Eiland added that far too much attention had been paid by the political leadership to the "relatively straightforward" military aspect of the operation, and far too little to the diplomatic side.
"The military aspect is much easier - it involves us and them, that's all, and the IDF can take care of that. The diplomatic field is far more complex, with all kinds of players - Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, the UN, the US, Turkey, the EU and others - all with something to say.
"The political echelon needed to decide on Saturday afternoon what [arrangement] it wanted [at the end of this operation] and how to get it. Who to initiate it? Not us, obviously. Whether to involve the UN Security Council, and so on.
"That was the task of the prime minister, the foreign minister, the defense minister. But they only started on Tuesday. That was long overdue."
The impression being created, Eiland said, is of uncertainty. "If you want Hamas incapable of firing, then why are you waiting for the ground operation? If you want a deal, then why the delay? There's a sense of treading water."