At Sunday’s cabinet meeting, an argument broke out between Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi) and Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot over a new class of privileged terrorists: children who burn down swaths of forests and fields alongside the Gaza Strip border. Bennett reiterated his demand, heavily supported by most government ministers, including from the Likud, for the IDF to hit squads who launch firebomb kites and balloons.
Eizenkot, who runs the army, asked Bennett, who runs the Education ministry, “Do you justify harming children?” and declared that dropping bombs from airplanes on a squad of balloons or kites launchers is contrary to “the value and operational position of the IDF.” Perhaps Israel would do better with Eizenkot running state education and Bennett instructing the IDF?
Bennett, incidentally, did not pick up the glove to provide a leak-worthy quote about how a child terrorist is a terrorist, and instead suggested the IAF be instructed to evaluate the age of the firebomb launchers, if they are adults – kill them, if they are children, let them burn down a kibbutz.
Risking yet another Holocaust-comparison fiasco, it should be mentioned that during the last days of Berlin, in 1945, enormous numbers of youths, as young as 10, were removed from school and sent on suicide missions against the attacking allies – who had no problem slaughtering them. Someone should enlighten the men and women in charge of Israel’s security.
In practice, the cabinet instructed the IDF to “stop the kite terror,” that is, to intensify the retaliation measures in response to the kites, issue more warning shots at the kite and balloon cells, damage the logistics chain that supports them, and sometimes damage the launchers directly. Indeed, over the past two days, the IDF has injured—but not killed—several Arabs of various ages who were trying to burn down Israeli land.
The IDF on Sunday deployed an Iron Dome battery in Metropolitan Tel Aviv, also on the instructions of the Cabinet. The deployment was given publicity, including in a video in Arabic released by the IDF Spokesperson, signaling to Hamas that Israel was preparing for a high-level confrontation. You want war? We’ll give you war.
It feels like 2014 all over again. The cabinet ministers were told that Hamas had made desperate requests for a ceasefire on Saturday, but most of the cabinet ministers (save for Kahlon) were there in 2014, when military intelligence insisted that Hamas wanted to end the fighting, but in reality the terror group was fully invested in war, forcing the confrontations to last 51 days. The Hamas political interest then was identical to its interest today: no one in the Arab world gives half a hoot about Gaza, the humanitarian crisis, blah, blah, so Hamas will force them to pay attention by getting thousands of its citizens killed by Israel. In other words, folks, unless there’s a radical change on the ground, war is inevitable this summer.
War could start this coming Friday, at the border fence. Even if only a few hundred Hamas recruits show up, if they manage to kill IDF soldiers, as they tried to do last Friday, throwing six different explosive charges, including one hand grenade that injured an IDF officer – the Netanyahu cabinet will have to mobilize, and, if we are to believe Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, mobilize decisively in Gaza.
For now, as long as the number and severity of the casualties on either side remains low, we’re still dealing with a war of attrition, albeit one that’s waiting to escalate. The Iron Dome batteries in the center of Israel are intended to respond to an escalation, while the IDF this week conducts extensive exercises to sharpen the readiness of the ground forces ahead of a confrontation.