As I write, we have a "sort of" ceasefire with the terrorists groups in Gaza. Brokered by Egypt, it was to begin at 1 AM. It is "sort of" because here and there a mortar or rocket is still being aimed at southern Israel from Gaza. Which I don't quite get. Because Israeli leaders had said, "Quiet will be met with quiet. Fire will be met with fire."
Never mind if that is a good policy in any event -- simply reacting to their fire (and I'll get to that in a moment). The point here is that we have stopped operations according to an agreement, in the process ignoring our own words. Islamic Jihad had said, "We won't stop unless Israel does first." Did we blink, allowing them a sense of victory? Did we blink because we didn't want to pursue this further?
As my readers will have already perceived, I'm not comfortable with this ceasefire. We've been down this foolish and frustrating road so many times.
After the ceasefire began, Chief of Staff Benny Gantz praised the resilience of the people in the south, who were in range of rockets, and the performance of the IDF.
There was never, he said, "any question that we are stronger." I think this is fairly obvious. However, he cautioned, "the terror groups and armies around us are getting stronger." (Emphasis added)
Uh, excuse me. If the next time we take them on will be more difficult than this time, why are we waiting until next time? Why are we willing to allow them to continue to build their arsenal of ever-more sophisticated weaponry towards that inevitable next attack?
The terror groups -- most notably Islamic Jihad -- were seeking immunity from future pin-point air attacks such as the one that dispatched PRC leader Zuhair al-Kaisi last Friday. That is, they wanted a commitment from Israel that there would be no further such attacks to be part of the ceasefire agreement.
Israel says there has been no such promise in the ceasefire agreement, which is informal and not written in any event, and that we reserve the right to attack when we judge it necessary.
Today Defense Minister Ehud Barak defended his decision to hit al-Kaisi. Since we had intelligence that this man, who had engineered a previous successful terrorist attack, was about to do it again, this was most certainly appropriate. Hopefully, there was a bit of deterrence achieved with this operation, as well. If the terror groups were not frightened that we might do it again, they would not have sought an Israeli commitment not to.
But look what else Barak said:
"At the moment we have achieved a satisfactory result, and we are prepared to act as required when this happens again. This morning was comparatively quiet, and it is quite possible that we have reached the end of the current cycle of violence." (Emphasis added)
The Ministry of Defense of Israel, the stronger party, acknowledges upfront that the enemy is going to attack again -- that they haven't been hit hard enough to keep them from doing so?? And that they'll attack on their schedule.
There is a basic problem here. Particularly as PM Netanyahu has already accurately identified Islam Jihad as an Iranian proxy and has spoken about the need for strong deterrence.
There is no indication that Israel was hit during this "round" with the worst that is in the Islamic Jihad/Hamas arsenal: The Palestinian Arabs in Gaza are known to be in possession of Iranian Fajr missiles, which are both longer-range and more deadly accurate. What happens next time?
According to Aaron Lerner, director of IMRA, Israel Radio Reporter Nissim Keinan interviewed military affairs journalist Yoav Limor on Israel Television Channel 2 today, and Limor said, "Rockets reached ranges that are not permitted to report."
We let that be?
Speaking of Aaron Lerner, he also wrote a commentary yesterday on why "Quiet Should Not Be the Goal in Gaza":
"Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon told Israel Radio today in a live interview that Israel’s goal today is to restore the quiet.
"Simply put, the Gazans have a green light to continue to dramatically improve the range, accuracy, payloads and sheer volume of weapons as long as they don’t use them. Too much."
"...Planning horizons of days and weeks are very comforting for policy makers seeking to avoid costly decisions.
"But the purpose of the exercise isn’t making it easier to indefinitely postpone what is best done today.
"The decision makers owe it to their constituents to look beyond the next weeks and even months...
"Time and again the Israeli street has begged its leaders not to take short cuts. To follow through and get the job done despite the cost."Time and again we have witnessed bereaved parents calling at the grave site for their dead son’s commanders to carry on the battle to victory and not be deterred by their loss.
"Yes. The Israeli street is willing and able to make the sacrifices compelled by a planning horizon that goes beyond the next 24 hours.
"Is the leadership?"
Islamic Jihad -- thank Heaven -- did not succeed in killing or even badly wounding any Israeli in the last four days, although achieving this was a major goal of theirs. The Iron Dome batteries played a role in shielding people, as did the Israeli policy of protecting civilians by providing shelters, cancelling school, etc.
There were Palestinian Arabs killed and wounded -- 20 plus. Of these 19 were terrorists (whom the Air Force targeted), but a very small number (2, 3 4?) were civilians -- including at least one teenager. This happened in spite of exceptional care taken by the IDF to do pinpoint operations.
As David Hornick has written (http://spectator.org/archives/2012/03/13/report-from-an-asymmetrical-wa): "According to UN data cited by Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, the typical ratio when armies fight terror groups is three civilians killed per every terrorist killed by military forces." The IDF record then, is most extraordinary.
And here we encounter deja vu as well: The Arab policy, as we full well know, is to place rockets and launchers in civilian areas, and to seek a PR victory by "demonstrating" how cold-blooded the Israelis are. What is more, in their attempts to milk the issue to the maximum they are sometimes duplicitous.
For information on tweeted photos purporting to show Gaza victims that were false:
© 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.