Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Experts Propose Other Military Options in Gaza

In light of continued Kassam rocket attacks against Israel, military and political leaders are saying a massive ground offensive into Gaza is inevitable But even those who favor an invasion into Gaza are not sure the time is ripe for it. Other alternatives are being offered.

Dr. Guy Bechor, an Arab affairs expert at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, writes that there are those in Gaza who would like Israel to "take over Gaza in a great offensive, liquidate Hamas, and grant Gaza back to Fatah - so that they will be able to once again fire Kassams at us, as they did when Fatah ruled Gaza up to a few months ago. Would we like our sons to be killed for the sake of Fatah? I don't think so."

Therefore, Bechor writes, what must be done is to "part from Gaza totally and absolutely. No more supply of water, electricity, food, or other services. Never before in history has a nation kept its enemies alive so that they could continue to strike out at it. Militarily, we know the precise locations of all the homes of the leaders of Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad, and of the Hamas army camps, weapons storehouses, and military infrastructures; there is no problem of ability, but just of making the courageous decisions and giving the right orders."

Indor: Civilian-Free Buffer Zone
Lt.-Col. (res.) Meir Indor of the Almagor Terror Victims Association said this morning, "We must create a buffer zone in Gaza, clean of Palestinian population. Ever since the appeals to the Supreme Court put a near-total end to Israel's artillery counter-fire - because of the proximity to Arab homes and the Court's fear that they might get hit - the shells are fired in one direction only, from Gaza to us. Israel must create a buffer zone under our control. If we do not, we will have to create a similar zone on our side - by evacuating Israelis."

Dr. Bechor agrees with this idea: "Just like the Egyptians have begun making forbidden-entry zones around Gaza (in order to stop arms-smuggling into Gaza, which has led to a freeze on some US aid), we can do the same - create no-man's land areas in northern and eastern Gaza so as to prevent Kassams from being fired at a sovereign state. We are within our rights to do this, according to the UN Charter's Clause 51 on the right to self-defense."

Ron Ben-Yishai, military affairs commentator of Israel's largest daily, Yediot Acharonot, disagrees with Bechor's major premise, and feels that a major ground offensive is both inevitable and necessary - but not right now.
For various reasons, Ben-Yishai writes, a large-scale offensive is not in the cards in the immediate future. For one thing, the government fears reactions questioning why the army response came only in the wake of a Kassam attack on an army base, and not as a result of any one of dozen injurious attacks against civilians in Sderot and elsewhere.

In addition, the government is not likely to want to disrupt plans for the international US-sponsored summit in November.
Rather, what is likely to happen, Ben-Yishai feels, is a series of small-scale but potentially effective moves that could significantly reduce Kassam attacks against Israel. These include:
· targeted attacks of Hamas leaders
· targeted attacks against those involved in manufacturing and firing Kassams
· more and deeper ground infiltrations into Gaza, in order to gather intelligence and destroy Hamas and Islamic Jihad military infrastructures
· artillery and air power at Kassam launching grounds, even without concrete targets
· economic sanctions
In addition, other methods such as blowing up roads are being considered, to hamper the transport of Kassam rockets to the firing areas within range of Israel.

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