The Gaza Elephant in the Room
The Hamas is still digging tunnels in Gaza at breakneck speed. It plans to use those tunnels to attack Israel. This is an Israeli fiasco. The tunnels are bad enough, but what is worse is that the government and the IDF sent soldiers to fight in Gaza for the purpose of not winning.
There is an elephant in the room. Nobody dares to say that Israel’s 2014 Operation Protective Edge in Gaza was not a war to defend Tel Aviv. Operation Protective Edge was - first and foremost – a war to defend the Hamas rule in Gaza.
The decision makers – both in the government and the army – were more concerned that the Hamas would collapse than that a Hamas missile would explode in Tel Aviv. With this background, we can safely say that no change in the decision making process would have resulted in a better outcome for Israel.
A government is not supposed to understand much about attack tunnels. That is fine. The government fiasco is in the fact that it did not define a military goal for the army in Operation Protective Edge. It dictated instead a political goal.
For its part, the IDF failed when it accepted the political goal for the operation. That is why, during the war, the Chief of Staff was stumped when I asked him who was the enemy.
The army’s job is to eliminate the Hamas – not to restrain it. A Chief of Staff who receives an order to ‘restrain’ the enemy should explain that it is the police who do restraining – not the army. If he is left with no choice, he should submit his resignation. This is a better option than sending thousands of soldiers into the alleys and tunnels of Gaza as a fig leaf for an erroneous and failed political concept.
Since Israel signed the Oslo Accords, it has sacrificed hundreds of soldiers in pointless rounds of fighting – in order to keep Oslo alive. Operation Protective Edge was really the War to Protect Oslo. (Oslo began with the Israeli retreat from ‘Gaza First’. The elimination of the Hamas will be the elimination of Oslo).
Israel’s political and military leadership must make room for new leadership – leadership that is not influenced by the Oslo mentality. If that does not happen, no fancy F-35s, no brand new submarines and no improvement of the decision making process will change anything. The results of the previous military operations will repeat themselves once again in the upcoming rounds of fighting.