Lack of initiative

The fact that Hamas is once again carrying out attacks against Israel from the Gaza Strip proves that we have failed to engage in long-term planning and strategic thinking.

By
July 27, 2018 16:46
4 minute read.
Lack of initiative

Smoke rises following an Israeli strike on a building in Gaza City July 14, 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS/IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA)

The latest ceasefire pushed forward by Hamas, and which the Israeli government surprisingly agreed to, brings the absence of an Israeli initiative to an absurd level. Coming just one day after the killing of an Israeli Givati soldier by Hamas sniper fire, Israel has agreed to Hamas’s request for a ceasefire. This sentence does not require any sort of interpretation.

Even Winnie the Pooh, with all his limitations, understood the need for initiative, when told his friend, “You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”

The fact that Hamas is once again carrying out attacks against Israel from the Gaza Strip proves that we have failed to engage in long-term planning and strategic thinking. Once again, it is Hamas that is taking the initiative and calling the shots. Hamas is literally the one deciding how high the flames should be and when the fighting should commence or be stopped. Israel has achieved nothing in the most recent spat of fighting, except one more dead soldier.

The State of Israel has not compiled a security plan or political vision since the days of Ben Gurion. Nor has it initiated any political talks with the Palestinians or Hamas. Instead, it’s gotten dragged into eight wars with terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

And still Israel has yet to formulate any type of counterblow. Instead, we retaliate with “appropriate force.”

In addition, by allowing rockets to be fired at Israeli communities in the Gaza Envelope, and by failing to react to endless fire kites and balloons, which have led to thousands of acres of scorched land, Israel has also created an absurd equation that has led to the absolute loss of military deterrence. Now that one of our soldiers has been killed by a sniper shooting from within Gaza, and the State of Israel still fails to respond, Hamas clearly understands that they will be forgiven for just about any damage they will cause us.

The dictionary definition of the word “initiative” is the following: “To start taking action, to take things into one’s own hands, being resourceful.|” Another definition is: “Being the driving force of a new process from the beginning, being able to attack and determine the nature of a struggle, a competition or a game.”

We’d have a hard time listing even one of these actions being carried out by our government in recent years.

In the security sphere, Israel has been in reactive mode in its struggle against Hamas for many years now. All eight IDF operations were carried out in response to Hamas’s actions, and it was Hamas that initiated every ceasefire. The severity of Israel’s attacks have always been kept proportionate to the scope of Hamas’s attacks.

Israel never engages in attacks that are part of a long-term strategy to reduce Hamas’s strength or to obstruct the smuggling of weapons and cash. In addition, neither does Israel have a strategy for undermining Hezbollah’s capabilities on our northern border. As usual, Israel is making do with carrying out the “proper response” when we are finally attacked.

In the political sphere, the Israeli government has made absolutely no overtures towards neighboring countries in an effort to advance dialogue. The only activity that has been initiated in recent years is the appointing of a team responsible for responding to proposals made by the Palestinians, the Saudis, the Egyptians, the US and the EU.

The situation is no better in the civilian arena either. The Israeli government has not made any efforts to formulate a longterm plan that would reduce the cost of living, and lower housing and fuel prices.

Public transportation infrastructure in central Israel is collapsing and can no longer handle the increasing numbers of commuters. And yet, the only thing politicians are doing to solve these problems is spouting empty slogans.

If you were hoping to hear that our education and health systems are being revamped and improved, you will be disheartened.

The few upgrades that were implemented have been repealed. Hospitals are overcrowded, school classrooms are overflowing, students’ grades are dropping, and there is a tremendous shortage of teachers, doctors, and nurses. Not one member of Knesset has picked up the gauntlet and is pushing for reforms that would improve this situation.

The only changes that have taken place in recent years are new governments are formed on average every two years.

New ministers are appointed and endless promises are made. And yet, none of these promises are ever fulfilled. The creativity and success Israelis have demonstrated in private startups has not managed to express itself in the governmental offices.

We remain passive and lacking in creativity or the initiative necessary to make changes. As a result, we have lost all deterrence against terrorist organizations and enemies in the region. No longer can we proudly call ourselves a “Light among the Nations.”

What Israel needs is a government that is structured in a way that will lead to greater stability. An election system that will elect a body that is truly representative of the people. This is the only way we can elect leaders who will truly lead us to make the necessary changes that will improve the lives of our citizens. And the sooner the better.

The writer is a former brigadier-general who served as a division head in the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).

Translated by Hannah Hochner.


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