By Joseph Puder
The Israeli security cabinet also known as “The Nine” recently met to decide on the next course of action to be taken in the Gaza war. At the same time, a string of foreign officials arrived in Israel, including the Foreign Ministers of France and Germany, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Tony Blair, special representative of the Quartet to the Middle East, as well as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. All of them carrying essentially the same message: Israel must avoid a ground operation in Gaza.
Among “The Nine” there is, however, sharp disagreement on the next steps. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are advocating restraint and are allowing the cease-fire negotiations to proceed with the hope of reaching a durable agreement. Deputy Prime Minister and former IDF Chief-of-Staff, Moshe Ya’alon, and Yuval Steinitz, Finance Minister and former Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, are calling for an immediate ground attack on Gaza.
U.S. President Barack Obama, while backing Israel’s right to defend itself, has sent Clinton to restrain Israel from waging a ground operation in Gaza. Netanyahu, seeking to maintain a semblance of “good relations with Obama,” is reluctantly leaning towards stopping short of a ground operation, albeit, having ordered the mobilization of 75,000 Israeli reservists, many of whom reside in southern Israel and are eager to deal Hamas a permanent blow so that Israeli’s, primarily those in the south, can live a normal and peaceful life.
The talk in the Israeli media about an imminent cease-fire with Hamas brought immediate reaction from both the political Right and Left. Chairman of the National Unity Party Knesset Member (MK) Uri Ariel said that, “Accepting a cease fire agreement will cause the citizens of Israel (JP-especially those living in the South.) to feel betrayed by the Netanyahu-Lieberman government. The consequences of such a shameful surrender would be felt in the next few years when our enemies from the outside and from within will have increased motivation to hit Israel.”
Chairwoman of the far-left Meretz Party MK Zahava Gal’on stated that “After six unnecessary days, it is better late than too late for a cease-fire agreement with Hamas. The Netanyahu-Barak government must do the inevitable. The cease fire will avoid a heavy price in blood should Israel engage in a ground operation. Meretz calls upon the government of Israel to open negotiations with Abu Mazen, and support the establishment of a Palestinian State at the UN. Without a political solution there will not be security for the Israeli citizens.”
The same sentiments of appeasement that drove the Left in 2005 to support the Sharon government’s unilateral withdrawal from Gush Katif (Jewish communities in Gaza) and uproot 9000 productive Israeli citizens from their homes, in an attempt “to buy peace and quiet,” is now driving the Left to push for a cease-fire that will not be long lasting, and would only delay the inevitable – a massive Israeli ground operation.
On the leveled grounds where flourishing Jewish communities had existed in Gaza, Hamas claimed victory as the Israelis departed. The evacuated areas immediately became launching pads for thousands of missiles as Hamas solidified its goal to drive Israelis not only from Gaza but from the rest of Israel as well. Increasingly, southern Israel has become hostage to Hamas and the other terrorist organizations operating in Gaza such as Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda – all of which are sheltered by Hamas.
The cease-fire agreement that was to take effect Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 9 PM Israel time was violated even before it started and rockets from Gaza continue to hit Israel as of this writing. In positioning Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood chief and President of Egypt as the arbiter and judge regarding the observance of the cease-fire, Israel’s status has clearly been diminished. Hamas – a recognized terrorist organization – has emerged as Egypt’s partner in this cease-fire and achieved de facto recognition as a legitimate state. Thus Egypt and Hamas’ stature was promoted and Israel’s demoted.
Israel’s Cast Lead Operation into Gaza in Dec. 2008 – January 2009 was meant to bring an end to the indiscriminate firing of rockets and missiles by Hamas into Israel, but despite a cease-fire, the attacks never stopped. Based on that track record, where are the signs that this cease-fire agreement will stand? And, given that the situation in 2012 is vastly different from 2009, the odds become worse. Back in January 2009, President Mubarak ruled Egypt, and having little affection for Hamas’ ideology, kept them at bay. Mubark’s government sealed its border with Gaza and prevented the movement of arms to Hamas.
The so-called “Arab Spring” changed all of this. Mubarak was removed with President Obama’s blessings, and for a short while, the powerful head of Egypt’s armed forces Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi was Egypt’s strongman and interim leader. Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader was elected as President of Egypt in June 2012, and in August he ordered the retirement of Tantawi. Morsi outmaneuvered Tantawi (following the “instruction book” of Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Erdogan) by asserting full presidential powers and canceling the previous constitutional curbs on presidential power.
In 2009, Iran had not yet supplied Hamas with its long range Fajr-5 missiles. Today however (11/21/12) the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Mohamed Ali Jafari, publicly admitted that Iran provided Hamas with the knowhow to produce the missiles. Speaking to young journalists he said, “We are honored to announce that we gave them the technology of how to make Fajr-5 missiles and now they have their hands on plenty of them.” The Fajr-5 missiles have a longer range than Katyushas or Grad missiles and have, in this latest conflict, hit the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem areas.
The combination of a friendly and ideologically allied Egypt, that looks the other way as heavy weapons enter Gaza from Egypt, and the existence of sophisticated long-range rockets in Hamas’ possession, have changed the rules of the game. Although Israel has been successful in using the Iron-Dome to intercept most of Hamas’ Fajr-5 rockets, several got by, resulting in damages and loss of life. The Iron Dome was effective nearly 90% of the time, taking out approximately 400 rockets.
This current cease-fire agreement does not fulfill the aims of the Israeli Pillar of Defense Operation – the most serious of which included the setting up a long-term mechanism to stop Hamas’ firing of missiles at Israel and, preventing Iran or other hostile Muslim states from resupplying Hamas with even more sophisticated weapons.
The Hamas Charter, replete with genocidal intentions towards Israel, states that it seeks to obliterate the Jewish state on religious Islamic grounds:
“Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it; just as it obliterated others before it…The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Muslim generations until Resurrection Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up…There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.”
The charter goes on to state, “After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’, and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying.”
The Israeli government decided to avoid the inevitable – retaking Gaza and liquidating the Hamas and other terrorist group infrastructure, along with regaining full control over the Philadelphi corridor, which controls the border crossings with Egypt. Under the 1979 Camp David Peace Accords between Egypt and Israel, the two states committed to stem terrorism, arms smuggling, and other illegal cross-border activities. In September 2005, following Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, control of the Philadelphi corridor was given to the Palestinian Authority. Now that Hamas controls Gaza and Morsi is running Egypt, these provisions are effectively null and void. Only Israel can guarantee its own security, and the cease-fire is merely a bandage over a cancerous tumor.