Monday, July 21, 2014

Netanyahu: Gaza Operation Will Expand Until Quiet Guaranteed

This headline comes from the Times Of Israel:

Israel’s ongoing military campaign in the Gaza Strip to uncover terrorist tunnels will continue and even be broadened until it achieves its goal of bringing a prolonged quiet to the area, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday. He spoke hours after 10 Hamas gunmen were killed exiting a tunnel en route to attack Kibbutz Nir Am, the army said.

During a visit to the IDF’s 162nd Armored Division — known as the Steel Division — in the south of the country, Netanyahu held a security meeting with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, and Southern Region Commander Sami Turgeman.

Netanyahu declared that Israel is determined to achieve its goal of an extended lull in hostilities.

“The operation will continue and be expanded until the goal is achieved — the restoration of quiet to Israel’s citizens for a prolonged period,” Netanyahu said.

The statement came a day after a heavy battle in Gaza City left 13 Israeli soldiers and scores of Palestinian dead, and many more on both sides injured.
On Sunday, Ya’alon promised in a nationally televised address that most of the tunnels used by Hamas “will be destroyed in the next two or three days.”
Speaking on the visit to the base Monday, the prime minister asserted that the ground operation, aimed at destroying cross-border tunnels dug by Palestinian terrorists to infiltrate Israel from Gaza, was proceeding better than planned.

Military sources said the IDF has uncovered and destroyed 18 full-scale “attack tunnels,” and found another 45 tunnel openings. In a series of battles inside Gaza, IDF soldiers have killed 20 gunmen emerging from tunnel openings, including 10 in a mosque, the army said. In all, forces have killed some 160 terrorists since the start of the incursion into Gaza late last Thursday night.

The Israeli army is fighting a war in the service of a ceasefire. It is, like its leaders, very cerebral. But is it getting the job done?

The rationale, at the onset, was this: If the aerial strikes do not prevail, as they did last time, Israel will address the threat of tunnels, unearthing the strategic channels dug by Hamas. As the organization sees its labor demolished, as the rocket stores are depleted, as the troops draw closer to the heart of Gaza, Hamas will wait until the PR conditions are ripe and, as is its custom, dress defeat in the gowns of victory.

Understanding the risks of each further escalation, though, the IDF and the government built an exit ramp into each stage of the operation.

But what if Hamas, pleased with its bloody accomplishments, speeds past the next exit ramp as well? What if it believes that Israel has no intention of toppling its rule and that, as Udi Dekel and Shlomo Brom wrote for the INSS think tank on Monday, “the only advantage Hamas has over Israel is patience and endurance.”
In that case, which still seems unlikely, Israel will advance, somewhat fatigued, deeper into Gaza, and it will have to project that it has cast aside the cerebral approach.
As former general and national security adviser Uzi Dayan said early in this conflict, when advocating for a two-division push deep into Gaza at the onset, “I don’t dictate who will replace Hamas and I don’t care. It’s not strategically important.”
Instead, he said, while speaking to a group of journalists in a safe room in Sderot, “what’s important is that he knows that whoever will mess with Israel will pay for it.”

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