Monday, August 22, 2011

Arlene Kushner On Israel's War Option--Or Lack Of One

From Arlene Kushner

22 August '11


All the talk of taking down Hamas, acting to create a strong deterrence, etc. etc. As flat now as yesterday's soda.

One might think that it would be a substantial relief knowing that we have managed to steer away from war. But that relief is hard to come by when the truth is that we've not steered away from war so much as delayed it. And, just possibly, delayed it in a fashion that ultimately will make matters more difficult down the road.


Things are slowing down, with expectation that quiet will be established soon. Or -- as I suspect -- is it just "relative" quiet that we're going to settle for?

A great deal of unease remains.

At this particular political/diplomatic juncture it was not hard to see this coming. There is, quite possibly, something to be said for not starting a war on the cusp of the whole UN business we are facing within weeks.

As it was, PA leaders were playing our response to the terror attack to the hilt: accusing us of deliberately escalating the situation in Gaza in order to cause complications with regard to their anticipated bid at the UN.

And yet...and yet...

According to a JPost piece on this issue written today by Khaled Abu Toameh and Yaakov Katz:

"Defense officials said Israel was looking for a way to end the current round with Hamas, citing the lack of international support as one of the reasons Israel could not open a larger offensive against the Gaza Strip."


See: Israel, Hamas attempt truce after 3 days of attacks


In a YNet piece, Attila Somfalvi cites a "senior [Israeli] political figure":

"You cannot rush into war... [you need] to make any such decision in a responsible, smart manner. You don't rush into war, nor do you enter it carelessly.

"The entire Middle East is boiling over now, and we have to choose our path very carefully. We have to look at the entire region and decide how it could be affected, and what the consequences may be for us. It would be a mistake to get dragged into a war."

See: Political source: We cannot rush into war


Much depends on precisely what parameters have been established with regard to this truce/ lull/ ceasefire/ armistice (terms being used interchangeably by media that are apparently oblivious to the differing implications).

The Abu Toameh/Katz piece states:

"According to Arab reports, a senior Israeli Defense Ministry delegation had arrived earlier in the day[Sunday] in Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials who mediated the cease-fire between Israel and representatives of Islamic Jihad and Hamas."

"mediated the cease-fire"? Was it more than Israel saying, we'll stop after you stop? What were the parameters that the Israeli government agreed to?


The Somfalvi pieces states:

"Jerusalem sources stressed that despite the armistice the IDF will continue thwarting terror attacks.

"A political source said that as long as the Gaza groups maintain the lull, Israel 'will not instigate an operation in Gaza and will not target tunnels;' further qualifying that 'If terror cells are detected, they will be destroyed without qualms. We will not take any chances in that respect.'"

"...according to one Jerusalem source...the Gaza groups...were the ones to asked for a ceasefire: 'They understood where the wind was blowing....'

"The armistice, another senior source in Jerusalem said, was declared by Hamas unilaterally and without negotiations with Israel, Egypt or the United States."


Impossible for us to wrap our heads around all of this at the same time. Was our government looking for a way out, or did Hamas back off unilaterally?

In a statement made earlier Monday, Hamas spokesman Taher al-Nunu said that Gaza's rulers "have reached an understanding on the ceasefire issue between the factions and Israel. The factions all confirmed that they are committed to the same points that Israel has committed to."


It is a matter of some considerable importance if we have maintained the right to pre-empt attacks when terror cells are detected. But I find it difficult to understand why Israel would commit to refraining from the bombing of tunnels.

The truth is that bombing them has limited impact because there are so damn many tunnels (which is why we need to retake the Philadelphi Corridor). But it strikes me as inherently illogical, that we know that those tunnels are used for the smuggling of weapons (which go through even more readily, now that jihadist/Bedouin forces control the Sinai) but somehow turn a blind eye, while we scrupulously block the transfer of weapons at sea, and very properly so.

I hear it said that all that matters now is that we managed to reinstitute quiet (however defined), so that people in the South are not at imminent risk. But if the Arabs then utilize that quiet to stockpile more sophisticated weaponry towards the day when they will go to war with us?


On this issue, former ambassador Yoram Ettinger had this to say today:

"The recent surge in Palestinian terrorism forces Israel to revisit the fundamentals of counter-terrorism.

"...the most effective defense against terrorism – operationally, financially and morally – is not retaliation and a limited, surgical offensive, but a comprehensive, decisive, sustained, disproportionate and preemptive ground offensive, which aims to obliterate terror infrastructures and capabilities, bringing the enemy to submission. A decisive defeat of terrorism requires a victory over – and not coexistence or ceasefire agreements with – terrorism. We need to uproot – not just stop – terrorism.

"Any response to terrorism that falls short of devastating the ideological, political, financial, logistic and operational terrorist infrastructures only serves to reassure terrorists that they are immune to annihilation."

See: Preemption, Not Retaliantion


Stay tuned!

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

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