Israel's security doctrine collapses [pg.15]

Why haven't we shifted the war away from the Negev into enemy territory?

The celestial director sometimes has a macabre sense of humor, bordering on the theater of the absurd. He has presented Defense Minister Amir Peretz with a challenge in his own hometown of Sderot of all places, as if the director in the sky was saying to him - "Your test will be here in Sderot: Will you be able to fulfill your promise and restore security to this terrorized town, or will the residents of the town continue to abandon Sderot?" NO, MR. Peretz, your test will not involve the Iranian bomb or even the danger posed by the thousands of Hizbullah rockets and missiles in the north, but rather here - in your home. "If you cannot restore our security - resign!" As the devoted and courageous mayor of Sderot cried out to the government. Indeed, it is not only the people of Sderot; many thousands of Israelis living in the entire area of the country near Gaza are at the mercy of the Kassam rockets, which have also hit sensitive areas in Ashkelon. The Hamas state in Gaza has not been very impressed by Peretz's threats or even by the many successful campaigns being carried out by the IDF from the air, on land and at sea, in cooperation with the Shin Bet, to continually eradicate the terrorists launching hundreds of Kassam rockets. At this stage, those that warned that the uprooting of the Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip would lead to the formation of Hamastan in Gaza have been proved right. What is in fact happening is that the war is being waged now in Israel and on its territory. The state that since its inception, since the days of David Ben-Gurion, had an ironclad rule - that when war is forced on it, Israel moves the war over to enemy territory - is now permitting the enemy to wage the war inside its territory, in Sderot, in the surrounding kibbutzim and in Ashkelon. I recall the arrogant talk of attorney Dov Weisglass, who was enthusiastically involved in the uprooting of the Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, to the effect that the Kassams are no more than "flying objects." In order to conceal his military ignorance, Weisglass enlisted Brig.-Gen (res.) Eival Giladi, director of the strategic coordination staff in the Prime Minister's Office at the time, who explained how the security of Israelis would increase after the Gaza Jews were driven out of their homes. This complacency is also reflected in the comments made by Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres this week, when he contemptuously dismissed "the hysteria created by the Kassams-shmassams." Peres contrasted the people of Sderot to those of Kiryat Shmona, who suffered under a barrage of Katyusha rockets and held on. ALL THESE prattlers have forgotten that Israel's citizens were able and willing to bravely withstand terror and missile attacks when they knew that their governments were moving the fighting into enemy territory. In the 1950s and 1960s, when Syrian positions were shelling the kibbutzim in the north, only the IDF bombings of the Syrians put an end to the shelling, until Israel was forced to take the Golan, under the leadership of prime minister Levi Eshkol in 1967. Prime minister Menachem Begin responded to the shelling of Kiryat Shmona by bombing Yasser Arafat's headquarters in Beirut, until Israel finally launched the war in Lebanon, up to Beirut, in 1982. In other words, the Syrian artillery terror in the north in 1966-1967 and the PLO terror in 1981-1982 led Israel to launch a war in enemy territory. Israelis did not abandon the kibbutzim and Kiryat Shmona because they believed their governments would distance the war from their homes - onto enemy territory. Now, people in Sderot are leaving their homes, without shame, with pain, and openly - in full view of the camera - because they do not want the government to wage the war in their living rooms. They all know that the thousands of Israeli artillery shells being fired from land and sea are worthless. And if a Palestinian family happens to be killed, Jewish reporters and politicians immediately jump up to accuse the IDF of criminal evil in order to tie its hands and pressure the government to give in to Palestinian deception and demands. IT IS true that Chief of General Staff Lt.- Gen. Dan Halutz and air force commander Maj.-Gen. Eliezer Shkedi are doing a tremendous job with the precision aerial attacks on the terrorists. But the entire approach is mistaken. An air war alone can't work. Israel succeeded in drastically cutting back the number of suicide terrorists in Israel's cities only by waging a ground war in Jenin, and since then, by raiding the towns and villages of Judea and Samaria. In other words, the government moved the war into the towns of the enemy in Judea and Samaria - starting from March 2002, after the massacre in the Park Hotel in Netanya on Seder night. "I am a man of peace," Amir Peretz continually reiterates in his endless and vacuous speeches. "But make no mistake. I have the moral force to take very harsh steps," he threatens the Palestinians. Were previous defense ministers people of war? Does Peretz have a monopoly on peace? Peretz has no experience and has no idea about what is involved in being a defense minister. By agreeing to take on the job, he once again proved that he does not understand just how serious our security situation is. He certainly never dreamed that his first test would come in his very own home, in Sderot. To save Sderot and the Jewish settlements around the Gaza Strip, the IDF will ultimately have to move the war inside the Hamastan state created in Gaza - back to enemy territory in Gaza. If that does not happen with Peretz, it will happen with the defense minister who takes his place.