Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Time to Restore Deterrence in Gaza is Now - by Isi Leibler

Hamas has repeatedly pledged that it will not halt the border protests or cease the launch of balloons. Would any other country tolerate this situation, responding only with tit-for-tat destruction of empty Hamas facilities, causing minimal disruption?

Isi Leibler..
Israel Hayom/Opinion..
30 October '18..

Israel was created as a haven for the Jewish people. It has an obligation to protect all its citizens, yet it has failed to do so for the residents living close to the Gaza Strip border.

The time has come to say to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman: Enough is enough.

To summarize the situation:

Hamas' unyielding objective is the destruction of the Jewish state and murder of Jews.

Most Gazan residents are unemployed and impoverished but foreign aid has been diverted to military purposes.

Iranian financial and military support has created a military infrastructure throughout the Strip utilizing mosques, hospitals and schools as weapon storage bases and launching sites.

Hamas dispatches terrorists into Israel to murder Jews. Those who succeed are hailed as heroes and financially rewarded.

Hamas has built many tunnels to infiltrate terrorists behind Israeli lines. The IDF possesses sophisticated equipment that has identified and destroyed most of the tunnels.

Hamas orchestrates a protest campaign that, since March 30, regularly brings thousands to the Israeli border for "peaceful demonstrations" that include hurling firebombs, firing weapons, throwing rocks and storming the border. The IDF seeks to avoid lethal responses, but when endangered, it has taken firm action. Over 200 Palestinians – many identified as Hamas operatives – have been killed.

The Palestinians have been floating balloons into Israel carrying flammable material and bombs. To date, they have destroyed thousands of acres of agricultural land, impoverishing many farmers in the area.

Mutual hostility has led the PA to cut funds for electricity and fuel for Gaza's residents and to threaten the salaries of civil servants in the Strip.

Under such circumstances, Hamas became desperate and intimidated and announced it was willing to enter a temporary truce with Israel if the blockade of goods and services was lifted.

Egyptian-mediated negotiations have led to little progress, although recently, statements have been repeated that a truce was about to be implemented.

In the meantime, the world has become accustomed to the border protests and incendiary balloons. Many – including some misguided Jews – are accusing us of needlessly killing "peaceful demonstrators."

Hamas has repeatedly pledged that it will not halt the border protests or cease the launch of balloons.

Would any other country tolerate this situation, responding only with tit-for-tat destruction of empty Hamas facilities, causing minimal disruption?

This situation evokes a strong feeling of déjà vu. For months we have heard hollow statements from the prime minister and defense minister threatening Hamas with dire consequences. One day, the defense minister demands drastic action; the next, he backtracks, suggesting that a military conflict must be avoided. It's no surprise that Hamas spokesmen mock these empty Israeli threats.

Despite being perceived as a high-tech superpower, we act as if Hamas represented an equal, mutual deterrent. The government even provided safe passage for Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri, who is responsible for many terrorist acts and who boasted of involvement in the kidnap and murder of three youths in 2014 (a claim doubted by Israel).

To restore deterrence, Israel should announce that unless the border provocations cease, it will take drastic action.

The nature of the action will be determined by the IDF. It does not require the conquest of Gaza nor do we have any desire to reoccupy the area. But it requires a significantly tougher response than we have seen until now. We should consider destroying the homes of leaders and, if matters deteriorate, even targeted assassinations.

It is time for the IDF to impose a solution in which Hamas is punished to the point of deterrence. If not, its leaders should sit in a conclave until they devise a solution.

A "semi-truce" is the worst of all options. The terrorists are not inhibited by our restraint but see it as cowardice. It allows the barbarians to continue their terrorism and to strengthen themselves, determining when it is most advantageous to strike. They admit that any truce is temporary and they remain committed to our annihilation.

Last Thursday, Lieberman predicted a quiet weekend and another truce was proclaimed. But just one day later, Hamas launched 37 rockets into Israel, allegedly orchestrated by Iran, injuring two Israelis. Sixteen thousand people protested along the border and bombs, grenades and rocks continued to be hurled at the IDF. Five Palestinians were killed in the violent protests and a sixth was killed when the bomb he was preparing exploded prematurely.

The IDF claimed it struck 95 targets in response – merely destroying more Hamas buildings and weapons factories.

Prime Minister Netanyahu: The people demand action. You should warn our adversaries and allies that if this terrorism continues, Israel will act like any other nation and employ its full might to protect its citizens. Failure to act now guarantees a full-scale conflict later with a strengthened Hamas.

Otherwise, you must address the nation and convince it that the government has some strategy to restore deterrence.

Isi Leibler's website can be viewed at Email:

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