Thursday, December 25, 2008

Invading Gaza?

Video: Israel's Foreign Ministry Addresses the People of Gaza

Let's assume that Hamas is a rational political actor. What did the organization hope to achieve with the barrage of rocket, mortar, and missiles that it has fired at Israeli civilians since the conclusion of the cease fire? There are two separate but linked strategic aims that the Hamas government in Gaza is pursuing:

1. maintaining control over and legitimacy among the Gazan population against the challenges of other terrorist factions and Fatah

2. deterring Israel from attacking Hamas's fighters, political leadership, and infrastructure.

In order to maintain both control and legitimacy, Hamas has to reconcile two contradictory objectives. First, it has to ensure that the border crossings which deliver food, oil, and other supplies into Gaza stay open. Second, it has to prove its military superiority over other factions and local strongmen, by being at the forefront of the terrorist struggle against Israeli civilians and attacks on soldiers.

As far as Hamas's strategic objectives go, I am increasingly convinced that protecting Gaza's civilian population from being injured or killed by Israeli air force strikes and ground operations are not a priority. In fact, Hamas wants to draw Israel into bombing operations or incursions that will lead to dramatic footage of dead Palestinian "martyrs" being aired on Al Jazeera and other Arab television networks. Such deaths hardly seem to hurt Hamas's legitimacy, as they tend rather to stoke feelings of revenge and mobilize civilians to put aside dissatisfaction with their government in favor of unity against the enemy.

The calculus for Israel, on the other hand, looks different. The Israeli government's main aim is to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks - whether in the form of rockets or suicide bombings. Because of Hamas's commitment to armed struggle against Israel and its rejection of peace negotiations, the state of Israel has viewed Hamas's removal from power as a means to safeguarding Israel's security.  A cease fire of limited duration, while providing some relief to Israeli civilians, is clearly not a viable long-term solution. The problem is that assuming Israel succeeded in dislodging Hamas from power, it is hardly realistic to expect Fatah to take over and stop rocket fire on Israel. 

Israel's best bet, therefore, seems to me, to threaten Hamas with destruction - of its legitimacy and control in Gaza - while simultaneously holding out a deal by which Hamas might stay in power if it ceases its rocket attacks on Israel and other terrorist operations. 

All this is easier said than done, of course. On the military front, the following is precisely what Israel does not need:
"If the Qassam [rocket] fire does not stop, the Israel Defense Forces will fight you with the same might with which it fought Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War," said Hanegbi (Kadima), speaking to Army Radio (Ha'aretz).
Hanegbi wants a repeat of the Lebanon War? I.e., a hundred plus rockets raining on Israeli civilians every day for a month and many dead soldiers? The truth is that we do not know whether the IDF will be able to restrain Hamas's rocket attacks even if it embarks on a major ground operation. Might is not enough. The IDF will have to demonstrate a significant improvement in its rocket hunting capabilities in order to prevent a repeat of July 2006. 

Beyond the military option, Israel must create as much diplomatic space as possible to maintain a crippling embargo on Gaza, should the Hamas government continue to terrorize Israeli civilians. It has come to the point where all measures ought to be on the table - including cutting off Gaza's power and certainly closing all crossings. Israel's message to Hamas and its supporters must be unambiguous: stop your terrorism in words and deeds, and you can live in peace and perhaps even prosperity.

38 comments:

Ariel said...

Amos,
I'd like to hear you defend two of you assumptions before commenting on your policy proposals. First, that Hamas is a rational actor. My question here is not so much whether Hamas is rational or not, but what kind of rationality it might follow. Is it true, as you suggest, that it would respond to incentives designed to allow it to maintain power in exchange for halting the rocket attacks? Is this, for example, the interest of the Hamas leadership in Damascus? Second, the assumption that Israel is mainly interested in protecting its civilians. I don't mean to be cynical, but certainly there are Israelis who may find the rocket attacks politically useful. There are, after all, Israeli ideologists interested in presenting their country to the world as victim. Might not some of these people welcome the end of the ceasefire as an opportunity, once a Palestinian rocket creates some civilian tragedy suitable for publicity, to invade, and in their minds crush, Hamas?

web design said...

nice post

Nobody said...

Lets put it straight. We have a situation with no solution unless this problem solves itself. If we don't move in to reoccupy Gaza then we can either drag this blockade on and on or strike some deal with these people for a few years of calm during which they will consolidate their rule in Gaza and pack the whole place with even more rockets.

But I would like to draw the attention to some practicalities involved that are not covered by the Israeli media. Presumably we will have to learn to live in the shade of regular ballistic warfare. So how well the defense is doing its job?

I am asking this because it appears that the Iron Dome is technically incapable of protecting Sderot. It can't intercept Kassams at such short distances. On the other hand, there are at least four systems in the world I know about designed to intercept mortars and short range missiles the style of Kassam. The question is why the army is not even trying bring a couple of them to Sderot for evaluation.

Nobody said...

Ariel said...

There are, after all, Israeli ideologists interested in presenting their country to the world as victim. Might not some of these people welcome the end of the ceasefire as an opportunity, once a Palestinian rocket creates some civilian tragedy suitable for publicity, to invade, and in their minds crush, Hamas?


I don't know if there is anybody in the establishment even thinking about retaking Gaza. In fact, we seem to have a very different problem. The army does not move in even when it has to.

Ariel said...

I don't know if there is anybody in the establishment even thinking about retaking Gaza. In fact, we seem to have a very different problem. The army does not move in even when it has to.

Either way I'm still wondering about the agendas of Israel's decision-makers, and if they correspond to Amos's assumption that Israel is only interested in protecting its citizens: there are at least four systems in the world I know about designed to intercept mortars and short range missiles the style of Kassam. The question is why the army is not even trying bring a couple of them to Sderot for evaluation.

Nobody said...

Ariel

Israeli politicians have no particular agenda beyond trying to suffocate Hamas by the blockade. Of course it does not work as such things usually don't work in the Arab world. So the more centrist and left wingish of them, out of sheer stupidity, seem to have convinced themselves that Syria holds the key to all Israeli problems, in particular given Syrian support to both Hamas and Hezbollah.

So they have apparently reached a conclusion that the Oslo failed because of its having been split into separate deals. So some politicians are secretly pondering the Saudi peace plan, others want to first get a deal with Syria. Of course the Assad clan is daily having idiots like ours for breakfast and not even as a main dish. And of course Syria cannot allow any real peace with Israel for pretty much existential reasons since this whole country is based on the ideology of pan Arabism and resistance. There is nothing else that holds it together. In case Israel wants to be relieved of the Golan heights, the Syrians may go some way to be helpful, but otherwise these are all foolish hopes and unreasonable expectations. But these foolish hopes and unreasonable expectations pretty much constitute what you call the agenda of Israeli decision makers.

Amos said...

Ariel,

I wanted to reply to your comment yesterday but didn't have a chance.

I would consider the following to support my second assumption. Imagine a rocket attack in the next weeks struck Sderot and ended up seriously injuring a large number of people. Although there is no doubt that such a strike would be publicized and used in arguments for a response, I think that it would mainly be seen as a huge failure for the government. The government would be accused of

1. not having put in place sufficient defensive or protective measures, and

2. of not having attacked Hamas before,

as it stands accused today when rockets strike the south with impunity.

Furthermore, all of the attacks that are taking place now are linked by many people to the unilateral disengagement.

What I'm saying is that the plight of the residents of Sderot presents a very significant liability to the government in a fully developed democratic state. It is surely one of the reasons for the dismal performances of Kadima and Labor in the polls right now.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't see the same thing happening on the other side of the border. When Israeli attacks on Hamas positions lead to civilian deaths, is Hamas's standing in public opinion seriously compromised? Does it view such killings as a policy failure?

Your critique of my first assumption leaves me less room to object. In fact, I should have made it clearer, that this assumption is a big if. I wanted to see if we could think of some kind of solution when we make that assumption.

However, I'm inclined to accept your rebuttal and that of Nobody that a real solution is hard to come by.

Anonymous said...

lets get it straight.
1. israel main aim is not to protect its population but to obtain as much arab land it can settle. once this land has been stolen is is then settled and then only defended. if israel were to give back all the land it has stolen in 60 years and to allow the palestinian refugees to return to their home, peace will be the next step.
2. the palestinian rockets is a response to the illegal policies of the israel government.what is happening in gaza is cruel and illegal. something the world hasn't seen since the warsaw ghetto in the 1940s.
3. i have always wondered how the people of europe let the nazis dehumanise the jew and finally put them in camps and kill them off. the same thing now is happening in palestine.judonazification is alive and well i see.you zionist are against gods laws of the ten commandments

Nobody said...

Amos said...

Ariel,

However, I'm inclined to accept your rebuttal and that of Nobody that a real solution is hard to come by.


I think that we should always bear in mind that much of the stuff we are dealing with is about damage control. We can't really prevent or stop the damage. In the case of Gaza, it's virtually impossible to dislodge Hamas from there and as time goes by their control over the strip may grow even stronger while their military capabilities will increase.

On the other hand the situation in the region may change dramatically in the next decade and this applied both to Gaza and Syria. Sometimes the correct approach is to wait and do little. Right now any wrong move vs the Palestinians or Syria may significantly worsen the situation. In a very near future the situation may change or at least become more clear and predictable.

noam said...

The Hamas is a very rational actor, but I think you missed out on his intentions. The current round of violence reflect its leaders assumption that Israel can't move the Hamas from power in Gaza. I think they might be right.

The way I see it, the Hamas objectives are:

1.Negotiate a better cease-fire (one that will end the blockade).

2.Hurt is primary opponent: the Fatah. There is a Palestinian presidential election scheduled for next month. Even if it won't happen, the political battle is on. The Fatah is putting all its money on the peace process and the relation with Israel and the US. But now, Abu-Mazen and the rest of the Fatah leaders must support the Hamas. I just heard the Palestinian ambassador in London saying all negotiations with Israel will stop. First point for Hamas, which gained control over the political events.

So what's next? the Hamas gambles that it will survive the attack, like the Hezbollah did, until the international pressure will stop the IDF.

One has to admit it's not a bad bet.

Amos said...

"judonazification" - is that a new form of martial arts?

Ariel said...

I believe Anon is a third-degree black belt in judonazification, having studied under the great master, David Rommelvitz. As with other martial arts, effective practice of judonazification requires great discipline. One must block out all aspects of reality in order to concentrate fully on one's offensive thrusts. It's true that this often results in the appearance of random strikes at no one in particular, but the advantage is that whenever an opponent (or anyone, for that matter) comes into range, the judonaziist is already on the offensive. Fortunately it is easy to avoid these engagements.

Critiker said...

Hello Amos, this is Critiker.

According to you, Israel's best bet is to threaten Hamas and its legitemacy, and in the meantime, try to make some kind of diplomatic deal with it. The first problem is that Hamas is clearly not afraid of Israel's threats. The second problem is that they will not agree to any deal that is favorable to Israel. I think that underlying your idea of the "best bet" for Israel is the beleif that the IDF cannot respond with effective military action, as seen by the military inefficiency in Lebanon war. I hope that today's news of the retaliation will revive your faith in successful milirary operations.

Anonymous said...

So the Zionist entity today added another massacre to its annals. Every single person you have murdered has a name and will never be ferogtten. No, Israel has no right to exist. It never did, but even if it did at one time, it was forfeited by such behavior. Israel is once again proving its a Nazi state, and you Jews continue to justify these monumental crimes. I used to distinguish between Zionism and Judaism, but as so many have told me I am wrong. This is a sick religion that does not value the lives of the Goyim. With every new massacre you are simply acclerating the inevitable demise of this illegal, Nazi state.

I used to condemn anti-Semitism and focus on anti-Zionism. I realize I was wrong.

Hitler was right. You animals are not people. Go to hell, you, Israel and your filthy religion.

Nobody said...

Anonymous said...

So the Zionist entity today added another massacre to its annals. Every single person you have murdered has a name and will never be ferogtten.


Oh Shalom Zionism is racism aka Arab Advocate

:D :D

Anonymous said...

No Shalom with you. No recognition of you. No negotiations with you. Israel will be erased from this earth because it has no right to exist. What you are doing is not a war. It is murder. War can be dignified and moral. This is not a war and you are not warriors. You are cowards. Cowards. Immoral cowards! Every single person you have murdered since 48 including the last 48 hours will never be fergotten. Keep killing. Keep murdering. This is what your Talmud teaches. This is what your filthy faith is all about.

Do not kid yourselves and do not fool yourselves. This is a sign of weakness not strength, and you will pay.

Kill as many as you want we will never dissapear, but every single one of you in Palestine must will either leave or die. Pack your bags or dig your graves. The Holocaust was a Hoax and a lie, but we promise you a real one.

Nobody said...

Anonymous said...

No Shalom with you. No recognition of you. No negotiations with you. Israel will be erased from this earth because it has no right to exist. What you are doing is not a war. It is murder. War can be dignified and moral. This is not a war and you are not warriors. You are cowards. Cowards. Immoral cowards! Every single person you have murdered since 48 including the last 48 hours will never be fergotten. Keep killing. Keep murdering. This is what your Talmud teaches. This is what your filthy faith is all about.


Come on, Zionism is Racism. We used to be friends. I was actually missing your appearances here :D :D Come on , man. Calm down. Take it easy


PS

You forgot to mention that little notepad where you keep all those names. Actually if you are interested I can recommend you a couple of nice programs with excellent search capabilities and an option to save your names in files of various formats and export/import them to external applications. Tell me if you are interested. I'll be more than happy to be helpful

Anonymous said...

I dont expect a filthy Zionist to be able to relate to any human suffering. I expect you to mock those whome you murder. Your time is limited. You wont be able to mock the dead when we reach the Mediteranean. The clock is running on you and zionism.


tick tock tick tock

Nobody said...

Zionism is Racism

Don't worry. We will intercept you over Atlantic. You are nicely spending your exile in the US, aren't you? We have a good intercepting technology. You won't reach the Mediterranean

:D :D

Anonymous said...

Stop living in the past. The myth of Israeli invincibility was shattered long ago. Remember Hizballah in 2006? You cant even enter an unarmed Gaza, how can you reach the Atlantic? You have been reduced to bombing innocent civilians with American F-16s flying high above like cowardly Nintendo pilots. Its the Palestinians that are dying but its you who is in need of pitty.

tick tock tick tock

Nobody said...

Its the Palestinians that are dying but its you who is in need of pitty.

Good enough arrangement for me

:D :D

By the way, what is this tick tock tick tock? I think you are trying to enter it the wrong way. The door is on the other side

:D :D

ruth said...

Well at least anonymous is being honest. You should read the English press. Says basically the same thing as Anonymous without the hysteria. I read thousands of comments on the Guardian website today, same thinking as anonymous only couched in more PC terms. Made me depressed. SO many people crave another holocauste. Meanwhile British and American troops have been killing thousands of Irakis but I don't see the same level of rage coming out of the international community. Basically the view is that Israel is not allowed to defend itself because it stole the land and should endure whatever it is coming to her since she is an illegitimate entity. There is zero sympathy and only deep hatred and this from the so called progressive community.

Amos said...

Yah, it's depressing. I couldn't hack it in Western Europe or the UK in times like these.

Anonymous said...

ruth,

Iraqis are also killed and people speak out against it. But dont think we dont know why Iraq was invaded. Richard Perle. Paul Wolfowitz. Elliot Abrams. I can list many more names, but I think three is enough for you to figure out what they have in common.

Nobody said...

ruth said...

Meanwhile British and American troops have been killing thousands of Irakis but I don't see the same level of rage coming out of the international community.



Well. The vast majority of those Iraqis were killed by Iraqis and other Arabs themselves. The British and Americans were mostly trying to stop them massacring each other.

Ruth said...

Anonymous,
What do they all have in common?
Since when you are shy?
I am sorry to say that you are still tribal despite the nice american education you got in the states. A mixture of hysteria, boastfulness and blood curdling calls for revenge characterizes your postings. Tribal! Oh Palestine, I will redeem you with my insults to the Jews!
The amount of crazies who come out of the woodwork to lambast Israel is truly astonishing. Lebanon war Redux. What do you guys think of David Grossman's idea of declaring a 48 hours unilateral truce? I think the Arabs will die of laughter and the Guardianistas will still hate us. Short of dismantling iself, Israel has no solution for solving this conflict.

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Anonymous said...

Ruth,

Im sorry I cant respond. Im being censored and my comments deleted.

Amos said...

I'm SO sorry this is happening to you.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ruth said...

Well anonymous, you can surely express your opinion without resorting to gross insults, no?
Then we will get to know your point of view. That is surely your reason for reading this blog?

Nobody said...

Amos said...

I'm SO sorry this is happening to you.


:( Sorry too. I am often wondering why bad things always happen only to good people

Anonymous said...

its election time soon in israel and some politicians need to show the electorate that they are tough on the palestinians and to boost their 'war' credentials.pity you can only become a leader in israel through war and butal oppressive policies.the language of peace is as foreign as chinese in israeli politics.pity, because the jews use to be a rightous religion before zionism corrupted it and turned it into nationalism.

ruth said...

That's much better Anonymous, that was not so hard, was it? But you are still wrong. Zionism is a political movement and Judaism is a religion. However the idea of Zion has always been present in Judaism. It was invoked as redemption of a people and as part of its covenant with God. Well I am no scholar but that is what I understand. It will be easy for me to say that Islam does not know the language of peace based solely on the fact that every conflict on earth involves Muslims, except for Tibet.
But that will be totally ignorant of me because I separate the religion from its practitioners.
As for Israeli politicians , most of them are secular. I doubt Bibi goes to the synaguogue. So why are you bringing religion to the discussion? The language of peace is very much present in Israeli politics, have you heard of the Peace Now movement? All peace movements around the world are headed by Jews. As for the current candidates, they are known quantities, they don't need a war to burnish up their credentials. Besides they are acting in unison. So who would take the cake?

Anonymous said...

tell me one past israeli leader whose hands aren't dripping with palestinian blood.
in the 1980s ariel sharon was found partly responsable for the sabra and chatila massacre. this war criminal then became a leader of israel and most probally would be israels current leader if he did not have a stroke.in any other democracy sharon political life was over but in israel he gets the top spot.
the zionist claim to the land of palestine is one based on religion. these same zionist then broke every one of gods laws to create israel and are still doing it so as to make israel a jewish state.religion has a huge part in this conflict. do you think the illegal settlers would terrorise the palestinians if they were jewish. do you think the IDF would bomb a jewish place of worship if rockets were being fired into israel from its grounds.

Anonymous said...

soon israels control over US politicians will weaken as the US relies more on arab money and oil to drive its economy. without US aid israel couldn't exist.so israel has limited time to achieve its goal of ethnic cleansing the arabs from the holylands.now that the arabs do not fear israel, this will delay the process of slowly driving them away. all the arabs have to do is keep the struggle alive and they will win because the world needs the arab much more than the israelis.once US aid stops israels will blackmail the world, threatening the oil fields with distruction if the aid in not forthcoming. this will be also the time the world will turn on all jews, which will make hitler look like a boy scout.so these brutal racist policies of israel will backfire and it will be jews everywhere who are victimised. all for a racist belief called zionism.