Sunday, August 19, 2007

Lebanon in Sderot

Lebanon failures repeated in bombarded southern town; now we need to win
Uzi Dayan

Sderot and its vicinity have experienced another stormy week. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who visited the city with Holocaust survivor Tom Lantos, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that "in Israel we live under a constant barrage of Qassams." Well, not in the whole of Israel – only in Sderot and vicinity. Sometimes it is reported in the press and sometimes it is not.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, who also joined the tour, pledged to fund the fortification of the community center. If the State doesn’t help, philanthropists will do the job - if not Gaydamak, then Ellison.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak was quoted as saying that Mahmoud Abbas is unable to "deliver the goods" and that a diplomatic settlement with the Palestinians is a fantasy. It's true. So what's to be done? Keep talking about removing the checkpoints.

And again this morning, there was another brief and routine report that Qassam rockets "landed" in Sderot. No injuries were reported. What are we waiting for? For the moment that a rocket hits a kindergarten, heaven forbid?

Terrible sense that there is no leadership
And thus, three failures that characterized the Second Lebanon War are repeating themselves, live from Sderot.

• Decision-making: Then, they didn't understand that it was war and acted based on shortsighted impulse, whereas today they are unable to make clear-cut decisions with well defined missions, as required in a state of war for all intents and purposes.

• Deploying the military: Then, they didn't know how to deploy a large and powerful ground force, which wasn't even called up on time. Then as now, a large army is lying around idly, awaiting orders that are not forthcoming.

• The home front continues to be abandoned: After years of Qassam rocket fire in the Gaza region (to date, over 2,500 Qassam rockets were fired on Sderot alone,) there are still more than 1,500 unfortified houses, most places of work do not have an adequate solution, and educational institutions in the area are unprepared for the opening of the next school year. Then as now, the sovereign is "chalking up points" by announcing that it "will not fortify itself to death." So for your information – the entire investment in fortification doesn't reach a single percent of the overall defense budget.

The failures of the last war and their continuation today leave us with a terrible sense that there is no leadership; that there is no direction and no responsibility. We should do what we were not smart enough to do during the Second Lebanon War – win.

Take control of Egyptian border
Yes, there is a military response to the two key strategic objectives facing us: Preventing fatal Qassam rocket fire on the residents of Sderot and vicinity and preventing Hamas from becoming Hizbullah number 2 within a short timeframe.

To this end, the Gaza Strip should be isolated and we should intensify targeted killings, economic pressure and operations against Hamas. Forces should be deployed into areas from which rockets are being fired, the Philadelphi Route should be re-occupied, and we should take control of the Israeli-Egyptian border, which we should not have left in the first place.

The humanitarian issues that would emerge as a result of these policies should be dealt with sensitively, but we should make it clear that we too have a humanitarian problem – our abducted soldiers.

This military response must be used in order to give the residents of Sderot and its vicinity the security that every citizen is entitled to, but also to restore the sense of security of Israelis who are asking "how can we depend on a leadership that failed us in Lebanon that cannot provide an answer to the Qassam fire and deal with the Iranian nuclear threat?"

Indeed how? Everyone - from Sderot to Ramallah and Damascus, Hamastan and Tehran - is waiting for the answer to this question, which should come out of Jerusalem and constitute a key element of our policy regarding the Palestinian issue.

Major General (Res.) Uzi Dayan is chairman of the Tafnit movement and a former National Security Council

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