A day training with Israeli-Arab soldiers who play a key role defending the Gaza border.
(photo credit: JONATHAN SPYER)
“Israel does not have a strategic vision for how to handle Hamas,” Yom-Tov Samia told The Jerusalem Post. “This is just one round in our round-after-round in Gaza.”
Samia, a retired Israeli general and former head of the Israel Defense Forces’ Southern Command from January 2001 to December 2003, said that “Israel is a strong state, with the strongest army in the world and a NIS 75 billion security budget... I don’t understand how and why we allow a terror organization of less than 40,000 people to drive this situation, to hold 2.2 million Palestinians prisoners in Gaza and to hold the whole region under fire whenever it wants.”
In a conversation with the Post just over 24 hours after Hamas opened the firing of a new round of more than 600 rockets on Israel, Samia said, “Right now, Hamas decides when the round starts and when it finishes.”
The retired general entered the 2019 Israeli elections as head of a party called B’Yahad – which was an acronym of the Hebrew words for security of Israel, socioeconomic and democratic – but withdrew 40 days before the election when it became apparent that his party would not cross the threshold. However, he told the Post
that his platform for dealing with Hamas still stands and is a vision that could help ensure Israel’s future security.
“The absence of a strategy in the wake of the disengagement from Gaza in 2005 is one of the factors contributing to the serious situation we have faced with Hamas in the Gaza Strip,” he said.
While Hamas and its branches are viewed differently among the governments of various countries, Hamas’s charity branches and military wings have been put on the terrorist lists of almost all Western countries.
“Hamas is a terrorist organization whose platform includes establishing a Palestinian state in all of Israel, including the 1949 Armistice border,” Samia emphasized, adding that it is the “occupier” of the Gaza Strip. He explained that most of its activities there focus on strengthening armaments in preparation for fighting with Israel.
“A strategic security policy vis-a-vis Hamas and Gaza must be fighting this terrorism without interruption – without being blinded by the supposed breaks, which are exploited to intensify and make the next round more difficult,” Samia said. He noted that as time passes, Hamas grows stronger, its attack capabilities improve, the accuracy its rockets increase and its arsenal expands.
“Therefore, the sooner Israel sets itself the strategic goal of eliminating Hamas, the better,” he told the Post.
He said the way to eliminate Hamas would involve efforts on three fronts simultaneously: diplomatic, economic and military.
“No organization or country in the world will do this for us,” Samia said, although he recommended partnering with like-minded Middle East countries, America and Russia to combat Hamas. “Others may join the effort if we act with strategic intelligence, but they will not do so in our place.”