Thursday, January 01, 2009

Go In



Much of my thinking about the current operation has been guided by a hidden axiom, that Israel cannot, under any circumstances, reoccupy the Gaza Strip. I am starting to think that this premise was mistaken. The time has come for a ground operation that commits enough forces to the task of defeating Hamas.

As I read the editorials by commentators advocating a return to the tahadiyeh or cease fire, I am growing increasingly convinced that they are too optimistic about the possibility of reaching a durable accommodation with Hamas. Furthermore, in their desire to avert a ground operation by the IDF, some of these commentators are drawing imaginary red lines that have long been crossed. Thus, Steven Klein writes that
If the rockets continue, Israel would be free of the restraint dilemma it has confronted since the dawn of the Oslo era, while Hamas would emerge as the sole party responsible for the continuation of hostilities. Israel would then enjoy more support from its allies for subsequent military operations. 
But isn't this what the disengagement from Gaza was supposed to accomplish? Has Hamas not had opportunities to accumulate goodwill by ending its terrorist activities? What has really prevented the organization from ceasing its attacks on Israel? If Hamas were truly interested in peace with Israel, it would have found a way to demonstrate the sincerity of its intentions. It is time to stop supplying Hamas with excuses. Just like Hizbullah, Hamas will always find some reasons for  continuing the armed struggle - border crossings, prisoner exchanges, lifting of restrictions in the West Bank, and the list goes on.  And if met, each one of these preconditions for peace will further erode Israel's position vis-a-vis Hamas, as unfortunately, the Gaza evacuation did.

The truth is that Hamas has very little to offer Gazans other than a continuation of the "resistance" against Israel. Let's face it, Gaza is a demographic, environmental, and economic catastrophe. Plus, Hamas's Iranian and Syrian backers have no interest in removing this thorn in Israel's side.  What then could another cease fire, along the lines of the previous one, possibly accomplish? I think it would simply delay the inevitable future showdown.

The problem is that the longer an organization like Hamas stays in power and the more legitimacy it gets, the more difficult it will be to remove it from power once it becomes clear that it doesn't have an interest in ever normalizing relations with Israel. 

Thus, I think Israel has no option but to put all its resources toward crushing Hamas. This means putting boots on the ground - and a lot of them. I know that many people say that a "defeat" of Hamas is impossible. I agree that it's difficult. But I'm thinking about Russia's invasion of Georgia. Saakashvili was seriously weakened and will most likely lose the upcoming elections. Georgia's military power is destroyed. It will take decades before Georgia ever challenges Russia again. Even worse, it has probably lost Abkhazia and South Ossetia for good. 

The Russians exited Georgia at their own pace, with a cease fire agreement that represented a clear victory for them. On paper and on the ground, the current Georgian regime was utterly defeated. Russia and its allies accomplished this with utter ruthlessness, decimating the Georgian army even once the initial Georgian assault had been repulsed, and not showing very much consideration for civilians either. We don't know how many forces the Russians lost, but the casualties they endured were not insignificant. But could anyone say that it was not worth it for Russia? Has the Georgian war undermined Russia's legitimacy anymore than Putin already had? It is true that today Russia is in trouble, but its problems now have far more to do with the global economic crisis than the after-effects of the war with Georgia. 

It is true that innocent Palestinian civilians will die, if there is a ground operation. But no state can be expected to show more concern for the welfare of its enemy's civilian population than for the lives of its own people. Israel is not embarking on a quest to secure more land or resources for Israeli civilians; it wants only to protect its citizens from daily rocket attacks. 

Everyone asks what will happen on the day after an invasion of the Gaza Strip. Ideally, Israel will leave Gaza with a durable peace agreement, based on ideological commitments and facts on the ground. If that proves unattainable, Israel will have to contemplate ruling Gaza again, in a similar manner in which it controls the West Bank, minus the settlers.

34 comments:

Aardvark EF-111B said...

what are the limits within which land offensive can be politically feasible?

For example:
500 Casuality in IDF + 15K Civilian Pal.

I am putting Jenin R.C. offensive in 2004 as a model for comparison

Amos said...

That might be a little bit on the high side.

For now, the air campaign will continue to inflict a price on Gaza at relatively low cost to Israel.

Operation "Defensive Shield" has been frequently cited as a model for a ground operation in Gaza.

Another factor to consider is the internal security situation in Israel. Tonight will be a major test for the Israeli police.

Nobody said...

I think we should not do it precisely because Gaza is such a disaster in the making. Taking over Gaza also means that we have to let them work here and I don't want this at all. It's really up to Egypt to go in and take this place over and basically it's in the interests of Gazans to annex themselves to Egypt because then they can move out of Gaza.

We should keep in mind that while Gaza is tremendously overpopulated they are not yet done with their demographic explosion. Arab birth rates have been collapsing everywhere over the last two decades, but nothing short of a one child policy the Chinese style can save Gaza. In fact, instead of trying to transform themselves into Southern Lebanon this is what they should immediately do. It should be their priority number one.

And we should also keep in mind that the situation in our region may change dramatically. We have a global warming, water crisis, a new American administration that's all talk about energy independence and a green New Deal. Any serious move by the US regarding the last one can drastically defund the Gulf, cut the flow of remittances and send a whole bunch of countries here to the bottom. Taking control over any part of the Arab world in these circumstances is something nobody should want to do.

Nobody said...

We should follow very closely a US internal debate about this. Because the outcome may have tremendous consequences both for our region and the whole world.

Nobody said...

If you are interested, here you have my own take on this... It's mostly from the economic point of view, but its geopolitical implications are easy to figure out...

Lose, Lose, Lose, Lose, Lose ...

Smashing through the Blending Wall

Amos said...

I definitely did not mean a full-fledged occupation as in Iraq. My last line was a bit enigmatic, but I meant a system of checkpoints that would restrict movement inside Gaza. Of course, hopefully this will not happen. If a ground operation does take place and proves successful, it would be far better if it ended in a very short "occupation" along the lines of what the Russians did in Georgia.

I'll check out your links later. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Perfect solution. Occupying another country, what could possibly go wrong? Iraq?

How do you propose to subtract the settlers from this? What has Israel ever done besides stand steadfastly behind the bulldozing of Palestinian houses, the stealing of Palestinian land. They currently blame Hamas for this conflict, what will stop them from exacting another portion of land? From kicking thousands more Palestinians from their homes? From confining more and more people to less and less land?

Further, recognize that Hamas has done a more effective job of governing than Fatah, and that both have funded violence against Israel under the table. By the by, the US funded Bin Laden and insurgencies in Africa and South America labelled terrorist, why does Israel recognize the US government? Hamas runs hospitals, police stations, and other government services better than their Fatah counterparts, which gets them democratically elected. By destroying Parliament, Israel has already made its intentions to re-occupy, or at least permanently destabilize Gaza perfectly clear.

Then again, if a ground invasion is what it takes to pacify the agressor, then perhaps I should cheer your disgusting proposal. Is that what Israel requires not to flatten another apartment building? Not to destroy another place of worship? Not to destroy another place of study?

Israel has killed more than 100 civilians in this righteous offensive. This is an atrocity that cannot be blamed on Hamas, as hard as you try. It is time to examine what makes a terrorist.

Ariel said...

The analogy to the Russian invasion of Georgia doesn't seem appropriate to me at all on the face of it. The situation is different on so many counts, not least the fact that Hamas is organized as a terrorist/guerrilla force that could easily continue to operate underground. I don't know anything about Georgia so maybe I'm missing something.

noam said...

Amos

without going into the problems with your thesis (that you can crash a dominant political movement with a military operation), i have one question: have you ever been to Gaza? You can't compare it to Georgia, Iraq, South Lebanon or any other place on earth.

Nobody said...

The thing about Russia is that on one hand Russians don't care so much for what Europe is thinking about them because they supply it with gas and oil. As a matter of fact there was a certain miscalculation on their part in this sense, because the war has triggered capital flight from Russia. Russia's economic woes were exacerbated by the global crisis by they actually started in the wake of the war with Georgia.

On the other hand Russians are seeking such confrontations or at least don't try to avoid them. Russians like to keep their relations with the West in a state of controlled tension because they associate it with being back into business, for them it's like regaining the status of global power they lost after the Soviet Union was gone. Though it looks like they have toned down their rhetoric now as it's finally dawning on them how deeply they are dependent on the West.

Anonymous said...

could someone please answer two questions for me.
1. who are the palestinians.
2. where did the palestinians come from.

Anonymous said...

Occupation of Gaza should not and is not going to happen.

I have to agree with Nobody here that Israel needs to move this onto Egypt's plate. The rest of the world is starting to open their eyes that Gaza also shares a border with Egypt. We have to thank Nasrallah for bringing this to the Arabs' attention.

Egypt will never annex Gaza, but they should be made to be responsible for it.

-Ellie

Anonymous said...

the bombing of gaza has made many more people around the world look hard at the brutal ,racist,oppressive,illegal, inhumane policies of israel.
these policies will make hamas so much more stronger and israel weaker in the end.
it doesn't matter if fatah or hamas rule the palestinians. what israel is fighting are the 'just demands' of the palestinian people. the rest is a smoke screen so israel can illegally settle arab land.
.................

Anonymous said...

hey elle,
why should egypt have to clean up israels' mess.
egypt is not like israel when it come to stealing a country.
you must be israeli, cause only israelis have such arrogance.
the only way to fix this problem is the address the crime committed by israel in 1948.

Anonymous said...

More like why should Israel have to clean up Egypt's mess. Egypt occupied Gaza until 1967 and Hamas is an extension of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

-Ellie

Anonymous said...

jee, i alway thought it was israel who made refuggees out of the palestinians and stole their lands.

Truth said...

If Palistinians want Israel to stop bombing them, they should stop firing rockets into Israel. Israel gave Gaza back to the Palistinians, but the Palistinians continue to attack Israel. It is only logical for Israel to protect herself. Israel is willing to live with her Arab neighbors in peace, but Arabs are not willing to let Israel exist. Palistinians need to stop complaining about the measures they have forced Israel to take; if the peole of Gaza don't want to be bombed, they should stop their attacks on Israel.

Truth said...

If Palistinians want Israel to stop bombing them, they should stop firing rockets into Israel. Israel gave Gaza back to the Palistinians, but the Palistinians continue to attack Israel. It is only logical for Israel to protect herself. Israel is willing to live with her Arab neighbors in peace, but Arabs are not willing to let Israel exist. Palistinians need to stop complaining about the measures they have forced Israel to take; if the peole of Gaza don't want to be bombed, they should stop their attacks on Israel.

Nobody said...

Aardvark EF-111B said...

why don't Israel follow the same lebanon senario in Gazza

1/ bombardment 4 month
2/ limited land operation to cut gaza cities from one another


Looks, like they are acting according to your script, ef-111b. Gaza is split into several sections now.

Anonymous said...

israel may have given gaza back ,but its ILLEGAL settlement policies in the west bank are continuing. israel has now ILLEGALLY turned gaza into a prison and is starving the people of gaza.israel has ILLEGALLY bombed the palestinians constantly for 60 years. gazans have become a captive people totally dependant on the UN to survive because of the brutal theiving policies of israel. and then you wonder why hamas fires rockets. israelis suffer from some sort of tunnel vision where only the arab crimes count.the rocket hamas fires into israel is a response to these brutal oppressive policies. these attacks will only weaken arab moderates while the radicals become more popular.

ruth said...

ILLEGALLY-Illegal
The war of words.
I love the semantics of the I/P conflict!
What is it about the use of the word "illegal" and the pro Palestinian crowd? Are they all experts in international law? A favorite is the "illegal occupation". So sometimes occupation can be legal? When? Where?
Another great gem :Israel's illegal and immoral founding. I thought the UN approved the establishment of Israel. Isn't that all legit then?
The twin brother of "illegal" is "criminal". Its cousin is "immoral". Most repeated sentence on CIF: The illegal, criminal, and immoral Israel flouting international law.
Never mind all the nazi and holocauste imagery. That's a whole other kettle.
I still don't understand why an article on Israel generates up to 1000 comments, most of them negative obsessive and repetitive while any other subject has a maximum of 20 comments unless it is about an up to the minute dramatic event.
Jews are news, Ok. But what else?
I read Israeli blogs everyday crisis or not and they are mostly ignored by the ProPalestinian crowd but as soon as there is something going on they all show up to spank,teach,and moralize.
Now that the West has huge numbers
of muslims, the western audiences are adopting the rejectionist language that has always existed in the Arab world but was largely confined to a fringe group in the West. Remember Vanessa Redgrave?
Another thing I noticed is the reversal of roles when presenting talking points to the media. Now anything an Israeli says is a lie while a fact uttered by a palestinian becomes gospel. Numbers, stastistics are accepted as fact without checking for their veracity. Let me be racist for a moment here: Arabs are the greatest embellishers of facts.
DON'T PEOPLE KNOW THAT?

Anonymous said...

the reason why a article about israel generates 1000s of comments is people are more informed in this digital age. the propaganda war which israel easily won for the last 60 years is now even.
its all down hill for the zionist because of the digitial age and the arab oil reserves.in ten years the arabs will have enough wealth and influence to bankrupt the israelis without firering a shot.

Hugh said...

Israel has launched a futile offensive against a democratically elected government Hamas, who would never had been elected had Israel honoured the roadmap to peace. It's current alibi for this offensive? The terror of home made rockets sent as a defiant gesture to the blockaded imprisoned Palestinians in Gaza.
The result? the birth of yet more suicide bombers and the upsurge of Al Quaeda and Iran.
To mount this offensive before US President elect Barack Obama takes office, shows a gross disrespect for the International Community, and the admission of the growing bankruptcy of their settlement policies.
There is a risk to the greater world. The mad terror state of Iran represents the biggest threat to world peace, yet this assault on Gaza will result in Iran justifiying it's role as freedom fighter for a cause that the majority of Arabs do not support.
End the killing now and allow the United Nations, (imperfect as they are) to intervene.
Peace can be obtained, but Israel has to respect the right to self determination of the Palestinians in the very same way that the International Community allowed the Jews to establish the state of Israel.
I fear that in future, Israel will have lost many moderate supporters, and when things get worse as they will, these supporters will not come to Israel's aid as they did in the second World war.
In short, Israel is writing it's own epitaph and threatening the safety of the free world by this lunacy.

When World war three starts, it will be because of this conflict in the Middle East, there are no winners, only losers, and I have no wish to have my children's right to life threatened by either muslim extremists or Zionist extremists.
Go to the negotiating table now.

Anonymous said...

israels moral compass is so broken its amazing they can find the way home. maybe thats why they are stealing someone elses home.

Ariel said...

I fear that in future, Israel will have lost many moderate supporters, and when things get worse as they will, these supporters will not come to Israel's aid as they did in the second World war.

Israel did not exist during World War II, and no one came to the rescue of Europe's Jews.

In short, Israel is writing it's own epitaph and threatening the safety of the free world by this lunacy.

Rank hyperbole. If Europe, for instance, actually believed this, maybe it would try to do something useful, like offer Israel some kind of real security guarantee (perhaps membership in NATO or the EU).

Amos said...

That was pretty funny, Ariel.

ruth said...

Hugh,
Your profund ignorance of the situation is embarassing. I feel your stupidity. I would not be commenting on this blog if I were you.
Go read a history book!

ruth said...

in ten years the arabs will have enough wealth and influence to bankrupt the israelis without firering a shot.

You too should go and read a little. In your case I recommend the Human Development Index compiled by the UN. Check it out! See the rankings for arab countries and weep. I also recommend a report by a group of arab intellectuals on the sorry state of research and development in Arab countries. Opening shwarma shops in the West does not exctly qualify as influence. That is what the arabs do in Toronto for instance. AS for money from oil, well besides having 20 wives and building gaudy palaces what have the Saudis done exactly?
Israel is working on developing a green car, so who needs oil?
Hey for all we know in 10 years, there will be peace.

Anonymous said...

if the palestinians were as half as ruthless as the zionist and half as organised they would have had their mini state years ago. and most probally had the US as a maxi state as well.

Anonymous said...

ruth you must be a israeli with your racist views on the arabs.
do the jews of toronto open money lending shops .
israel is totally dependant on the USA for its survival.without the aid from america the cost of living in israel will be unaffordable . mass migration would follow and the whole zionist enterprise will collapse.all the rich arab countries have to do is make the US stop giving aid . they have this ability at this moment for they aready own 15% of the US economy.all they have to do is to sell it off all at once and its game over for israel and its US backers.of cause the arabs will suffer but i think in the long run they could bare it with the oil wealth that they have.
the green car [electric car] is already here and the oil/car companies killed it off.so don't count on a green car to save israel.

Anonymous said...

the UN approved the establishment of israel but it didn't approve the way the jews ethnic cleansed over 800 000 palestinian and turned them into refugees.the UN resolutions also demanded that the palestinians return to their homes which israel ignored.israel has the worst record when it comes to UN resolutions.the UN help establish the zionist claim but then like a spoilt aggrogant child israel wanted it all.

MSS said...

The Georgia analogy makes no sense to me. There it was a case of two states' armies fighting one another. Yes, with a massive asymmetry in capabilities, but still conventional warfare.

I just don't see the parallel that the post attempts to draw.

Amos said...

The Georgia analogy makes no sense to me. There it was a case of two states' armies fighting one another.

Yes, the analogy is not perfect. But an analogy in which the source and target are identical is useless.

This is what I had in mind:

1. Russia did not need to achieve regime change immediately to reach its goals in the Georgian conflict. Israel likewise does not need to "bring down Hamas" in order to claim victory.

2. Russia faced severe international criticism during the fighting in Georgia; this criticism has had no discernible effect on Russia's standing. If anything, the Georgians today look stupid for having provoked the Russians and having brought disaster upon themselves. One could conceive of a similar outcome to Israel's operation in Gaza.

Anonymous said...

all hamas has to do is survive and it will claim victory abd be more popular than ever. the peace process never really existed without international law being applied. now the spot light is shining on israel/palestine instead of iraq and the pressure on israel will be greater than ever .