Friday, December 19, 2008
IDF faces stronger Hamas
Lull had benefits, but it also allowed Hamas to build up its military strength
Part 2 of analysis
The Gaza Strip lull also served as a platform for tightening the ties between Israel and Egypt. The Gaza crisis did not trickle into Egypt, and the Egyptians did not cave in to Hamas on the issues important to Israel, such as the opening of the Rafah Crossing or the release of Hamas detainees held by Cairo. The lull also allowed for the advancement of the Saudi peace initiative and the maintenance of polite relations with the moderate Arab world. It was no coincidence that Jordan's King Abdullah invited Prime Minister Olmert and Defense Minister Barak to meet with him about two months ago. The possibility of ending the lull jeopardized, and still jeopardizes, the Jordanian regime's stability.
The post-lull era / Alex Fishman
Alex Fishman offers insights into Gaza Strip truce and what we can expect the ‘day after’
Thanks to the lull, we also got less airtime on television screens in Europe and the United States. This enabled the International Quartet to cling to a policy of boycotting Hamas and provided the US Administration with some quiet, so it could focus on affairs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The lull also enabled the IDF to prepare, formulate plans, and equip itself. However, the same cannot be said of Gaza-region residents. The time was not used efficiently for completing fortifications and preparing for the possibility of more communities coming under the rocket threat.
Army officials also believe that a clash on the Gaza front may prompt a second front in the north, so the lull spared us another violent round on two fronts, simultaneously and at an inconvenient timing.
Hamas doubled its rocket arsenal
The defense establishment, including the defense minister and army chief, see more benefits than drawbacks to the lull. However, the advantages are counterbalanced by the deepening Hamas hold on the Strip and the build up of the group's military capabilities.
At this time, Hamas possess a rocket arsenal that is double the size and range of what it had six months ago. Hamas has 8,000 to 10,000 rockets of various types. Six months ago, its rockets had a 20-kilometer (roughly 12 miles) range. Today, the group may be able to hit Beersheba.
Meanwhile, Gaza's defense system has been completed. It includes eight divisions and 16,000 armed personnel, as well as anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons. The quality of the defenses against Israel's armored forces has improved, and underground tunnels are much more secure. Toady, Gaza is home to tunnels extending for about 50 kilometers (roughly 30 miles,) improved bunkers, and better intelligence means.
Israeli officials expected that the lull would serve to advance negotiations on the release of Gilad Shalit. Yet this did not happen.
In summary, what the IDF could have done six months ago is much more complicated today. Therefore, there is no rush now. Or as the defense minister put it: The war won't run away.