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July 24, 2014 / 26 Tammuz, 5774
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DEPT. OF BETTER IDEAS

The Hollow Ceasefire and How It Can Be Fixed

The sole purpose of this ceasefire is to allow Netanyahu to survive the coming election.
The author, MK Arieh Eldad, of the Power to Israel party.

MK Arieh Eldad of the Power to Israel party.
Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90

At the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense, following the successful elimination of Hamas military chief of staff Ahmed Jaabari, Israel’s defense minister stated the goals of the operation. It was clear that this time Israel’s leaders have learned the lessons of the Second Lebanon War, of Operation Cast Lead, and of the historical statement of Likud MK Yaakov Meridor, who, on the eve of elections for the tenth Knesset in 1981, announced his invention that could illuminate the city of Ramat Gan with the amount of energy required to light a single light bulb. In other words – Israel’s leaders have not learned yet how to win wars, but at least they’ve learned how to phrase their promises so no one could blame them when they weren’t fulfilled.

Netanyahu and Barak promised “rehabilitation of our deterrence.” But you can only measure deterrence after a long time has passed. It is already clear, for example, that the side that shoots at Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ashdod and Beer Sheva on the day the ceasefire talks are in their prime – is not really afraid, and is mostly assured of its own power, and realizes that with more power it would be able to squeeze more.

Netanyahu and Barak promised “significant damage to the military and organizational capability of the terrorist organizations in Gaza.” There is no doubt that dozens of terrorists, including senior officials, were killed. But was Hamas’s power damaged “significantly?” Hamas’s power is measured by its ability to harm us, and those who have been terrorizing millions of Israelis have been accomplishing all their goals.

Was rocket fire from Gaza reduced as per Netanyahu promises? The simple answer is known by all the civilians seeking shelter, for whom it does not matter if 120 or “only” 80 rockets are fired at Israel in one day.

The truly fantastic achievements of the ISA and the Air Force have led to the destruction of thousands of rockets before they could be launched. But Hamas and the Palestinian Jihad Gaza still possess tens of thousands of rockets. Therefore their ability to impact Israel has decreased, but not to a degree that would make a significant difference in the very life, the daily routines and the safety of property of the citizens of Israel.

And worst of all – Israel’s leaders promised “a long future period without without rockets.” Of course it’s impossible to measure such a promise now. But in the past, such promises on the part of terrorist organizations in Gaza were proven worthless.

One central issue was absent from the assurances given by Netanyahu and Barak: stopping the flow of weapons into Gaza. Without such a guarantee, there is obviously no value to all the other promises. In conclusion: the ceasefire taht was reached without achieving any of the operation’s goals, while accepting Hamas’s dictates on reducing the IDF’s freedom of action in the Gaza Strip, is a clear victory for Hamas.

Hamas knows that Israel now fears the prospect of a ground operation, due to the price we would have to pay in our soldiers’ lives – as well as the political and public opinion price of killing a large number of Arab civilians, which would be an inevitable part of such action.

Hamas understands the limitations of our power. It knows that even though we have the capacity to erase the Gaza Strip with indiscriminate artillery and air fire – we will never do it. The feeling of victory on the part of Hamas is a tremendous shot in the arm to all the other terrorist organizations, who are now taking up anew their old and familiar methods of murder, like a bus bombing in Tel Aviv last week.

Despite the failure in achieving the operation’s goals, Israel is being denied by its leaders the only move that can really subdue Hamas. What is this single move? The recapture of the Gush Katif area and the Philadelphi route in southern Gaza, and the creation of large, fixed land buffers between the Gaza Strip and the Sinai. Only then will it be possible to stop the flood of rockets, explosives, and the means necessary for their production in Gaza. Such a move would come at a price, but this is the only step with which Israel could truly choke Hamas.

About the Author: Prof. Aryeh Eldad, M.D. is an Israeli physician and politician, and a member of the Knesset for the Power to Israel party. Eldad is a professor and head of the plastic surgery and burns unit at the Hadassah Medical Center hospital in Jerusalem. He studied medicine at Tel Aviv University, where he earned his doctorate. He served as the chief medical officer and was the senior commander of the Israeli Defense Forces medical corps for 25 years, and reached a rank of Tat Aluf (Brigadier General). He is renowned worldwide for his treatment of burns and won the Evans Award from the American Burns Treatment Association.


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2 Responses to “The Hollow Ceasefire and How It Can Be Fixed”

  1. Liad Bar-el says:

    Binyamin Netanyahu agreed to a ceasefire after President Barack Obama personally pledged to start deploying US troops in Egyptian Sinai next week and after also Clinton stated that Obama had decided to accelerate the construction of an elaborate US system of electronic security fences along the Suez Canal and northern Sinai that would cork up the Philadelphia route through which arms are smuggled into the Gaza Strip. This would be the first time that an American special forces operation against the Sinai segment of the Iranian smuggling route would count as an overt American military strike against an Iranian military interest. I agree that no other country can protect Israel better than Israel itself; however, what do you suggest that Israel do so as to go in place of what America proposes to do now?

  2. Joshua Grady-Share says:

    Liad, the reason is revealed in the CNN interview between Naftali Bennet and Ed Hussain of the CFR that is on youtube. It would seem to the unaware viewer would see the Arab as pro-Palestinian, but he was actually speaking from the CFR policy book and something about provoking a regional war. Without even talking about conspiracies, the CFR is a major international organization to which most western leaders past and present belong (including Netanyahu). It is actually a stabilizer, yet the unknowns are the Israelis and the Arabs. Obama was not having Israel's interests in sight but rather to make sure that the Israelis and Hamas don't ruin his plans for new world order.

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