Published in Israel Hayom , July 27, 2014.
Victory over Hamas is critical for Israel in grand strategic perspective. Israel mustn’t allow Kerry’s shortsightedness to throw it off track.
US Secretary of State John Kerry seems oblivious to Israel’s strategic need to finish the fight against Hamas with a resounding, unequivocal triumph. By attempting to bring about an immediate ceasefire that simply restores the status quo ante (based on the irrelevant and unacceptable 2012 ceasefire conditions), he is acting to weaken Israel.
Kerry doesn’t understand that what is stake here is not just the lives of Palestinians and Israelis in Gaza and the Negev, but a reasonable regional balance of power where Israel stands a chance at deterring its many enemies.
More astute observers of the region know that Israel’s security has long been based on several pillars: it military supremacy, its alliance with the United States, its internal cohesion and steadfastness, and peace with its neighbors where possible. Over recent years, however, each of these four security pillars has taken a hit.
Implacable, non-state enemies like Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and Al Qaeda have weaponized heavily and embedded themselves in civilian populations on Israel’s borders – making it difficult and painful for Israel to strike at these groups. Iran is supplying these groups with money, weapons and military training, while building a nuclear bomb.
The Obama administration has distanced America from Israel.
The strength of Israel’s social fabric has come into question following two decades of materialistic binging and very divisive diplomatic experimentation.
The country’s peace diplomacy has fallen flat too, with the Oslo Accords in tatters, and peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan threatened by Islamic earthquakes.
As a result, we know that Israel’s enemies have viewed Israel as weak and vulnerable.
ISRAEL’S WAR AGAINST HAMAS in Gaza must be viewed in this broader context. Israel is acting not only to end the immediate and acute rocket and tunnel threat to Israel – which alone is more than enough to justify our current military offensive – but acting to restore a measure of overall deterrence against all or enemies; to regain the aura of military supremacy, in their eyes.
Israel must prove that it is not deterred by Islamic terrorist militias that embed themselves in civilian populations and think themselves thereby invulnerable. Israel is showing that it can and will take the fight into their streets and underground hideouts, and uproot and destroy their bases of operations – despite the cost in life to our soldiers and to non-combatants unfortunately trapped (purposefully so, by Hamas) in the cross fire, and despite international condemnation.
If Israel can’t do this, and do so while maintaining a high degree of internal cohesion and social solidarity, then Israel’s long term security prospects are bleak. Iran and all its regional subsidiaries are watching closely.
Consider, for example, our northern border. We know for sure that Hezbollah has dug its vast missile armories deep into the Lebanese mountainsides, underneath civilian towns. It is also very possible that Hezbollah has dug dozens of terror attack tunnels under the Israel-Lebanon border, reaching deep into the kibbutzs and towns of the Galilee. It is only a question of time until Israel has to take military action to “mow that grass,” to degrade and denude Hezbollah’s terror infrastructure and weaponry.
Winning this war against Hamas, then, is step one in restoring Israel’s security and its broader deterrent abilities. It is part of Israel’s response to the gains made by radical Islamists in Arab civil wars raging across the region. It is part of a re-assertion of the basic building blocks in Israel’s strategic posture. It is critical for Israel in grand strategic perspective.
Israel mustn’t allow Kerry’s shortsightedness to throw it off track.