Thursday, July 24, 2014
As Israel's Wins Its War With Hamas, It Mulls Over Its Next Step
Today, Day 16 of the War against Hamas was a decisive day for Israel, both militarily and strategically.
The fight for Shejaiya was the one most on the radar, where a Gaza City suburb accurately described as a terrorist fortress was essentially leveled. But the IDF enjoyed equal and important successes in eastern Rafah and eastern Khan Yunis in the south.
The IDF's ground game was to split its forces into 5 mobile task forces, each one the size of half a division and attack Hamas at multiple points in coordination with attacks from the air. The strategy has worked well and both PM Netanyahu and Chief of Staff General Benny Ganz have been quite open in praising the IDF's performance. This isn't Lebanon in 2006 with amateurs at the helm. The war has been run not by Israel's security cabinet but by Netanyahu, Ganz and Defense Minister Moishe Ya'alon.And Aluf Ganz is not sitting in Jerusalem, but in the front lines with his men.
Visiting Colonel Tomer Yifrach, the 188th Armored Corps commander who had injured in his back Ganz asked how he was feeling. Yifrach answered: "I have amazing men who watch my back." He does.
Here is Ganz with the heroic Golani Brigade commander, Colonel Ghassan Alian, who defied the medics and returned to his men after being wounded and evacuated to the hospital over the weekend. He still bears the scars of battle.
The cost has been high, but spirit of the Tzahal is superb:
This video is of soldiers dancing just before they went into action in Gaza. The song is "We Have No one to Rely Upon Except Our Father In Heaven."
While destroying the tunnels could still take weeks, that goal is now in sight. But the main decisive battle is yet to be fought.At this point, what's being considered is a major assault on the Hamas central command post, the bunker complex housing Hamas’ top military command and infrastructure inside and below Shifa Hospital (yet another violation of international law by Hamas, but who's still counting at this point?). That assault could come as soon as tomorrow.
Hamas at this point has rejected any ceasefire except on the most ridiculous of terms. Hamas Chief Khalid Mesha'al, safe in Qatar is insisting that any ceasefire has to involve the removal of the Egyptian and Israeli blockade, which would make reconstruction of the tunnels and the restocking of Hamas' missile arsenal a matter of ease.
Meshaal said, "We will not accept any initiative that does not lift the blockade on our people and that does not respect their sacrifices. Let us agree on achieving our demands and we will then agree on the zero-hour for a ceasefire."
In view of that attitude and the fact that Hamas has violated three 'humanitarian truces' since this war began, is obvious that any cessation of hostilities is not going to come easy.
The EU foreign ministers surprisingly came out with a joint statement calling for Hamas to be disarmed. Of course, none of them are talking about sending in any boots on the ground to help with the job.
There's no advantage to Israel in a ceasefire or in leaving Hamas in place so that the whole scenario can be played out again in a year or so.What Israel's security cabinet will debate is what comes next.
Should Israel simply destroy or at least badly cripple Hamas,declare victory and go home? Do they want to occupy Gaza,and have responsibility for 1.5 million people, a significant number of whom have always hated Jews just because? Do they turn it over to Abbas and the PA? To the UN?
I still stick with my original solution - defeat Hamas utterly,annex Gaza and transfer a significant amount of the current inhabitants to to Abbas' little reichlet in Area A. Then repopulate it with Jews and watch Gaza turn from a terrorist swamp into Singapore or Hong Kong. Even the Arabs left in Gaza wil be astounded at how much better their lives will be.