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Nope, these Palestinians didn’t attack civilians. They were also successful in their attack.

Palestinian fighters from three groups including Hamas, by using a fairly deep tunnel, attacked an Israeli military post at Kerem Shalom. Once out of the ground, they attacked a tank, a military vehicle and the post itself. I’m sure we’ll know more in the next couple of days. Two of the Palestinian fighters (yes, I use this word because they attacked soldiers, not civilians) were killed, but more important, so were two Israeli soldiers. Four others Israeli soldiers are injured, including one critically. One soldier is apparently missing and probably kidnapped – the remaining Palestinians fled back into Gaza through the tunnel.

The mistake Israel is making as I write is that it is sending ground forces into Gaza in large numbers for the first time since the Disengagement. This is a clear victory for the Palestinians and a clear error for Israel. Yes, in my opinion. Unless they can extricate this soldier, they are falling into a Palestinian trap.

The Israelis have been out of Gaza for over a year. In that time, Israel has experienced a handful of deaths and injured at the hands of the Gazan Palestinians. Over 1000 Qassem rockets have been launched at civilian targets inside Israel, that is true, but they have missed the mark more often than not and Israeli casualties are low. The effort Israel has had to make to protect Gaza is much smaller than having the army inside of Gaza, and the cost is lower as well.

The Palestinians were and are well aware that Israel was washing its hands of this area and its Palestinians. This is precisely why they have launched all these rockets into Israel, so as not to be dismissed. It is crucial for them to be noticed and for Gaza to be identified as part of the same struggle as Judea and Samaria/ West Bank. Bringing Israel back into conflict with Gaza is a trap that is intended to lock up Israeli resources, create the same type of propaganda war that worked so effectively in the past against Israel, but mostly to link up Gaza with the Palestinians to the east.

Israel has stood fast and played the game well. They have stayed out of Gaza and used targeted killings to control those who launch the rockets. While there has been mixed success in terms of stopping the Qassems, there has been plenty of success hitting terrorists and for the most part the international community has accepted this status quo and sympathized with or at least understood Israel’s position. Israel was able to keep the moral high ground. Of course, the cost was to Sderot residents who have been receiving the brunt of the Qassem attacks and it has been a dangerous and emotionally draining period for them where they cannot send their kids to school, for example, without fear of not seeing them again.

Despite Sderot’s problems, Israel should stay out of the Palestinians’ trap and away from Gaza. It’s not as if the Palestinians weren’t expecting this response. On the contrary, it is what they sought and craved, and now Gaza is linked into the conflict again. Israel could, instead, remain outside of Gaza and use their air power to target Hamas leaders, Fatah leaders and any Palestinian who had a connection with this attack. Their new leaders will know better than to attack Israel in the future, Israel will maintain the upper hand in the international arena, and Gaza will find itself becoming more and more distant from Judea and Samaria. This would be to Israel’s advantage.

Make no mistake, one of the best things about leaving Gaza is that the Palestinians can no longer blame the “occupation” for everything bad that happens over there. By attacking today, they declared openly that this is a war. Israel should fight this as if it’s a war. It should fight to win. But winning, in this case, is by attacking their leaders, fighters and terrorists, not by re-occupying Gaza. That’s what the Palestinians want and it’s a trap for Israel.

My condolences to the families of the soldiers who were killed. We already know that the Palestinians will demand the release of a significant number of their prisoners if they did indeed capture an Israeli soldier in order to return him alive. Past experience with this shows the Israelis are usually flexible and open to making these deals.

By the way, a small note. The AP had this story covered at least 2 hours before the Israeli papers came out with correct information. I assumed the AP’s story was mistaken about the dead and kidnapped Israelis, but it turned out they were in the loop while the Israeli papers delayed their story. The name of the AP reporter was an Israeli name, Yaniv Zohar. AP also reports that Israel had warnings last week of a pending attack in this area. I guess nobody thought to look for a tunnel.

(map source is Jerusalem Post)

About the author

themiddle

72 Comments

  • wait now, i agree that we should avoid re-entering Gaza, but TM, a soldier was kidnapped. We’re not just gonna sit around and wait for him to be released. According to reports here it is for that reason, not to stir shit up or send a message or re-engage the Gazans that reentry was necessary.

  • No. They did kidnap an israeli soldier. No choice but to re-enter Gaza now. Lots of people are going to die. I doubt it would have been worth it for the Palestinians … stay tuned.

  • Yeah, yeah, I wrote this about an hour and a half after the news broke and since I didn’t believe the AP report and trusted the Israeli papers, I didn’t know there was a kidnapped soldier. Of course they need to go in there to get him or at least try to get him – there are a couple of reports he may be dead and the Palestinians took the body. Either way, the point of my post stands, they should not stay in Gaza in the long term. Go in and go back out. Also, they need to start treating this Hamas government like a true enemy in a war, not just an enemy in theory.

  • Oh one other thing, unless these so called fighters were in military uniform, they cannot be designated as “fighters” but rather as the terrorists that they are. Two of the “fighters” took off into Israel, so this attack might be viewed as an attempt to infiltrate “fighters” into Israel where they no doubt planned to militarily engage the very first IDF grandmother, toddler or teenage girl they came across.

    Fuck that pussyfooting shit. I hope Gaza gets the pounding it deserves.

  • ck, they are talking tough right now, but this is a bit of a fiasco and the Palestinians have them over a barrel.

    The Palestinians must have been planning this for months. Israel had some intelligence about a pending attack, but apparently the IDF did not prepare accordingly and did not check the relevant area for tunnels (one report says they checked recently but stopped half a mile away).

    With respect to tunnels, although Israel immediately moved to block the Gaza crossing into Egypt, we know the Palestinians still have tunnels going into Sinai and sophisticated smuggling channels run by Sinai Bedouin. Let’s hope whoever controls the kidnapped soldier, Shavit, who is said to be injured, isn’t spiriting him out of Gaza already.

    Ha’aretz has just reported that Olmert has refused to have any negotiations regarding the soldier with Palestinians.

  • This is patent nonsense – and yes, I’ve read the updates.

    Those pushing the Gaza withdrawal – like those who pushed that incredibly successful Oslo Piece Plan – assured The Rest of Us that a clearly drawn border would improve our security because “if they cross the line, we’ll let them have it.”

    Now we are getting weasely, centuries-old ghetto-Jew justifications about how a constant barrage of civilians is “not so bad” and “only a few” of our civilians have been killed.

    Demonstrating just how much these misguided policies of withdrawal and accommodation have undermined our own sovereignty – in our OWN Jewish eyes!

    Sorry, middle – the ability to safeguard one’s own territory, and the lives and property of one’s own citizens, is a sine qua non of sovereignty. And there are no more excuses about the occupation – the shelling of Sderot and this attack both are taking place within sovereign Israel.

    The Nazis/Kossaks/Crusaders drag Yossi and Chaim out of their hiding place, and line them up against a wall to be killed. Yossi lets forth with every curse he knows.

    Chaim says “Yossi – Don’t Make Trouble!”

    Feh. Pathetic.

  • There are two ways to go about this. Neither way will win Israel points in the International community. I’m not including that way, since that just means letting Hamas/Fatah/PA/PFLP/DFLP etc. do whatever they want.

    Either we can go in with ground forces, en masse, and pop a cap into anyone with an even remote connection to the above groups. Then step back and offer to talk it out.

    Or, carpet bomb Khan Yunis. Turn it into a smoking crater. Tell them they have 24 hours to completely give up any and all belief in “Armed Struggle” or we’ll do the same thing to the next town, chosen at random.

    The current government obviously will do nothing of the sort. They’ll hem and haw. Maybe send in a few hundred troops, shoot up some open areas, complain to the U.N., threaten serious consequences and sit back and say “Ah…we’ve done a mighty fine job. Would you like some more land?” And if they don’t the High Court will make them.

    Pardon my cynicism, but the people running this country are f’d in the head.

  • the best thing to do is first turn off the electric in gaza
    if that has no effect next goes the water we supply.
    to go in with ground forses would be a bad mistake

    we in israel must play a good hand of poker on this!!!

    david

    kiryat shmone
    israel

  • TM: It’s rather poor taste to write glibly that Israel is “playing it right” and they shouldn’t go in with massive ground forces. In fact, had Israel responded adequately after the FIRST Qassam missile was launched at Sderot, I doubt this kidnapping would have occured in the first place.

    Howabout you go to Sederot and tell the people there that they don’t deserve security like Tel-Aviv does, and that for the sake of the country, we’re sacrificing them on the alter of disengagement?

    After all, its only a few missiles…and there’s been minimal loss of life. Why not go there are debate them…

    You can borrow my bulletproof vest if you wish.

  • Jameel, nice to see you again. I wasn’t writing glibly. Here is what I wrote about Sderot:

    Of course, the cost was to Sderot residents who have been receiving the brunt of the Qassem attacks and it has been a dangerous and emotionally draining period for them where they cannot send their kids to school, for example, without fear of not seeing them again.

    I am sympathetic to their plight.

    However, I also know that even when Israel was inside Gaza they couldn’t stop the Qassem rockets. In my opinion, it has served Israel well to be out of Gaza if the Qassems are raining down anyway. They can still target terrorists and their leaders, as they do, but without the same level of risk to Israelis and without all the baggage having Israeli troops inside Palestinian civilian centers entails.

    People seem to think there is some magic bullet, like Litvshe who would like to carpet bomb Khan Yunis. There isn’t a magic bullet, there is the slow drudgery of war. Think back to 2002 and how many suicide bombers and snipers were killing and maiming Israelis. Now consider today and how Israel has found solutions such that the rate of attempted attacks may still be high but the rate of success is very low. The Qassems are no different.

  • A reoccupation isn’t necessary. But a good thorough bombing, followed by an invasion designed to kill as many terrorists as possible, is. Go in, kill as many terrorists as possible, leave. Lather, rinse, repeat. As many times as it takes. Cutting off water and power is a good start.

    But this won’t “solve” anything, I hear some of you say.

    Allowing Sderot to be bombed at will will solve something? Regardless of how “ineffective” the Kassems are, this is not an acceptable situation. People lose wars by slowly accepting unacceptbale situations. I seem to remember Middle saying that once Israel was out of Gaza, it would have the right to respond forcefully to any violations of the “border”. Well, it seems the rubber has been in serious contact with the road for some time now, and Middle still is advocating appease…, oh, sorry, “restraint”. The time for that is long past.

    Israel needs to respond forecefully, and not by bombing empty fields or buildings after the terrorists have skedaddled. It means a search-and-destroy mission the goal of which is mounds and mounds of dead terrrorists.

    Israel is in a war. It needs to start acting like it. And the goal in war is not to not get hurt so much, it is to defeat the enemy. Usually, this requires killing bunches and bunches of them until the ones that are left say “Holy shit, these guys really mean it. Maybe we’d better stop.”

  • Unfortunately, Israel is a country without balls. No one in charge has any will to fight. They are just looking to get reelected and keep collecting that steady paycheck. Why should they rock the boat?

    Only Moshiach is going to straighten this one out.

  • Amazingly naive assessment of the situation – Israel should not worry about the hundreds of rockets that land on her because after all that is what the Gazans want and not to many people are actually injured? You must be joking.

    Israel’s first mistake was not saying one rocket from Gaza will result in 100 from Israel – and if that is not sufficient to stop the terror attacks on Israeli citizens, targetted assasination of every PA politico and no more electricity or water.

    Ohlmert should have said in 24 hrs if the soldier is not returned we will consider him dead and treat this attack on our soil as a cassus belli – and then he should have the balls to follow through 100% with putting an end to this once and for all.

    What ever happened to the Maccabee spirit? For the love of G-d unshackle the IDF/IDA and let them end this charade once and for all.

  • Um, H, Israel has sent 6000 shells into Gaza since March, exceeding the Palestinian total by several thousand, at least. Of course, they were targeting communities and Israel was targeting empty fields, but it’s not as if Israel didn’t do anything.

    You are welcome to think the rest of it is naive, but they have been attacking from Gaza for a reason. They are about to achieve their goal: keep Israel entangled with them.

  • Make no mistake, one of the best things about leaving Gaza is that the Palestinians can no longer blame the “occupation” for everything bad that happens over there. By attacking today, they declared openly that this is a war.

    And yet, the world is still calling for restraint. They condemn the missile strikes, want the artillery fire stopped and they sure as hell don’t want Israel to invade Gaza. It is almost as if retreating from Gaza did nothing to alter the international perception of Israel fighting terrorists.

    Israel should fight this as if it’s a war.

    It was a war before the retreat, and it wasn’t fought like a war then. The same people are in charge, so it’d be ridiculous to think that will change.

    By the way, those 6000 shells have yet to kill or injure any Qassam cells.

  • The Israeli papers ‘delayed’ their story until the families of those killed and missing were informed. SOP.

  • Of course, the cost was to Sderot residents who have been receiving the brunt of the Qassem attacks and it has been a dangerous and emotionally draining period for them where they cannot send their kids to school, for example, without fear of not seeing them again.

    We can only call it a ‘period’ of time if it has stopped, or even if there are signs it will stop. In the absence of either, it is just Sderot life.

  • TM: Good to be back…and good to see you as well.

    The reason Israel is so successful today in preventing terror attacks is because the IDF has a free reign in Shechem, and go into Ramalla and Jenin when needed. When the IDF was outside of these areas, the success rate of the terror groups was alot higher.

  • Jameel, I won’t dispute that being in there is better for security because we both know it’s clearly true. The question becomes, at what point does security interfere with our ethics and with our young men who we send in there into sometimes ethically challenging situations. Another question becomes, if we don’t get out, are we ever getting out? If we are never getting out, what do we do with all these Palestinians? These are complex questions and after 39 years, we know they are causing a significant tear in Israeli society.

    Matt, you may be right about the cause for the delay, but there’s no question that AP had the story covered hours before Israelis knew about them through their own channels. Since I saw it on the Internet, I have to assume that some things have become outdated, if not outmoded.

    As for your comment about war, I never understand what people mean when they say it has to be fought like a real war. Whether we like it or not, the terrorists and militants use high-density urban areas as their base. This precludes Israel from doing many things, as well it should.

    As for your international response comment, I have to disagree. The international community has agreed to blockade Hamas. They have also agreed to remain silent in the face of Israeli shelling of Gaza, thereby essentially agreeing that it is a just response to the Qassems. If they’re calling for restraint right now, it’s probably because everybody realizes that because of a provocation and kidnapping of one soldier, this entire effort to evacuate Gaza will be rolled back, with everything that entails.

  • Wonder if Hamas has decided to steal pages from the Iraqi jihadist playbook, with ‘kidnappings’– and worse.

  • Tom, I don’t think so. They are stealing a page from the Hizbullah playbook and before that from Arab armies fighting Israel handbook. Israel has at times exchanged huge numbers of Arab prisoners, including murderers and terrorists, to get back a single or couple of its soldiers back. That’s partially what the Palestinians are counting on here.

  • Thanks for the info, Middle. Agree with you, too, that Israel has played its hand post-Hamas’s victory very astutely.

  • This precludes Israel from doing many things…

    Okay, get used to Qassams loaded with biological weapons landing in Israeli towns and cities.

    The international community has agreed to blockade Hamas.

    Except for most of south America, parts of Europe, China, Russia most of Africa, never mind the Muslim world.

    They have also agreed to remain silent in the face of Israeli shelling of Gaza, thereby essentially agreeing that it is a just response to the Qassems.

    Great, only the artillery doesn’t actually do anything except churn up dirt. Are you surprised that the world is pleased that the Israeli government has decided not to do anything that would break the ‘calm’? What sort of diplomatic victory is it when the world doesn’t criticise a tactic that doesn’t work?

    They’re calling for restraint because – are you sitting down? – the same BS rules about what Israel is and is not ‘allowed’ to do in the eyes of international opinion have not changed since ‘disengagement’.

  • RE Hezbollah, they have the same ‘rules’ about kidnapped troops as al-Qaeda. See the 3 soldiers butchered in 2000.

  • Matt, you can’t deny the fact that Hamas has been ostracized. Even Russia, which thought they could use Hamas as an entre back into the conflict shied away after meeting with them.

    Also, let’s not be silly here. The day a biological or chemical of any origin lands on Israel, the place of origin will be rightfully destroyed by Israel. Nobody here is advocating giving up. I’m advocating fighting smart and being out of Gaza is smarter than being in it.

  • Ostracised? Europe is talking to them, if quietly. Russia has shied away in the sense that they’re not doing anything overt at this point, but Putin needs Iranian cash, so that will change soon.

    I’ve got to tell you, it is really disheartening seeing the red lines perpetually shifting. Israel arms the PLO for the sake of peace. Rabin and Peres say, explicitly, if they turn to terrorism, the Oslo project is done. Well, they turned to terrorism immediately. Okay, what we meant was that we’ll pretend the PLO is a security asset fighting the real terrorists: Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

    Right, okay, now the PA is arming, harbouring and conducting attacks with those terrorists. Well, that’s because Israel hasn’t offered enough. So Barak offers it all – after all, the Oslo idea couldn’t be wrong, it is Israel not being nice enough. Again, if Arafat agrees to the 2000 plan, and terror continues, we will destroy the PLO.

    Arafat walks away, and initiates the second ‘Intifada’. The campaign is spearheaded by Force 17 (armed and trained by the West, with Israeli permission), Tanzim and (later) the new al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade. In the first months, it is demonstrably a Fatah/PLO-led war on Israel. The jihadis have to play catch up, and only regain ground when their superior suicide wing comes in to play.

    Right, so the PLO and their allies are waging war against Israeli civilians and soldiers, irrespective of where they are. For a brief period in 2002, Sharon leads a drastic – and successful – campaign to destroy the PA and terrorist infrastructure across the territories.

    But then, Israel agrees to the Americans’ ridiculous peace plan – the ‘roadmap’. Israel agrees to roll back their forces and to give the terrorists an opportunity to demonstrate their willingness to negotiate.

    During this period, terrorism continues. Several times, the government announces that the roadmap is over, Arafat may be killed, Hamas will be destroyed, etc.

    They were right in that the roadmap was – eventually – set aside. But only in favour of a new plan: ‘disengagement’. Sharon persuades Israelis to accept the plan, in part because of the supposed benefits in Israel’s greater security, and because of the diplomatic ‘credit’. Together, these points give ‘disengagement’ supporters the idea (fed by Kadima, Labor and the media) that after ‘disengagement’, Israel will have red lines again. If anything more deadly than an angry moth is launched from Gaza, the IDF will Kick Ass.

    The air force stages a sound and lights show over Gaza, which kept local Israelis as well as the Arabs awake at night. Remarkably, the sonic booms and flares don’t convince Qassam crews to find another hobby.

    Many sigh a breath of relief when the army starts placing 155s around Gaza. The big guns are out – at bloody last. Except, all they do is churn up empty fields. Even if the IDF were firing near to the Qassam crews, there are rumours the IDF was warning the PA prior to bombardments.

    Then Olmert admits he has no solution to the Qassams, even as he proposes to repeat his plan within sight of central Israel. I hardly need to explain that central Israel is economically, politically, culturally more significant than Sderot. More immediately, people are more densely populated.

    So now you suggest there’s a new red line: if the terrorists launch a WMD attack, Israel will destroy the point of origin.

    Here’s the thing: Israelis have already been killed by chemical-laced suicide bombs – shrapnel dipped in anti-coagulants being the favourite.

    Presumably, that doesn’t count because rat poison isn’t on the various treaties banning WMD. But that escalation didn’t get any response. Few escalations have since Oslo.

    Defensive Shield is the only concrete example of the Israeli government upping the ante and deciding to destroy these groups before they find a new and bloodier way to kill Israelis.

    But it didn’t last, and now it is all about responding to the next atrocity.

    You know about boiling frogs, right? You put them in a pot of hot water, and they jump out. If you put them in cold water, and boil them slowly, they just die quietly and without struggle. That’s what is happening.

  • Middle:

    Of course, they were targeting communities and Israel was targeting empty fields, but it’s not as if Israel didn’t do anything.

    This is a joke, right? I mean, you can’t possibly mean this seriously. Do you not see how stupid this makes you sound?

    They are about to achieve their goal: keep Israel entangled with them.

    Israel is not entangled with them already? You are just not talking sense.

    As for your comment about war, I never understand what people mean when they say it has to be fought like a real war.

    Ummmmm… you know, like striking back at the enemy when they strike at you and killing large numbers of them until they are either all killed or sue for peace? As opposed to taking it in the nuts and grinning like an idiot while pretending nothing is happenning and Israel is somehow not “entangled” with the Paleos when they sneak into Israel and kill and kidnap people? You know, kinda like that?

    Whether we like it or not, the terrorists and militants use high-density urban areas as their base. This precludes Israel from doing many things, as well it should.

    No, all it means is that Israel has yet to show that it has the stones to actually really attack the terrorists. I am not advocating carpet bombing of Paleo residential areas. However, seeing as how the Paleos flout the Geneva Conventions by hiding behind civilians, some civilian casualties are inevitable. When the US thought Saddam was meeting in a certain location, they levelled an entire city block with a MOAB. The missed Saddam and killed a lot of civilians. Did you see George Bush grovelling in front of the world flagellating himself for being a war criminal? No. Only the Jews have so little self-respect that they are willing, essentially, to let their own civilians be killed so they can spare enemy civilians. Sorry, but this is psychotic behavior. Israel should de everything it can to prevent unnecessary Paleo civilian casualties. But it should not shrink from killing the enemy just because a few civilans might be killed. If it is going to do that, it really and truly might as well give up right now.

    The international community has agreed to blockade Hamas.

    Oh, right, I knew there was a reason that Hamas “government ministers” somehow manage to find suitcases stuffed with $20 million just lying around. I’d hate to see what would happen if the world didn’t boycott them.

    Nobody here is advocating giving up. I’m advocating fighting smart and being out of Gaza is smarter than being in it.

    You’re not advocating giving up? I haven’t seen you say anything except 1)don’t invade Gaza; 2)let the Kassems fall on Sderot; it’s a drag, but what can you do? It’s not like anybody actually gets killed or anything; 3)Israel can’t attack the terrorists because Paleo civilians might get killed and Jews don’t do that, so let’s bomb empty fields instead; that’ll show ’em and it won’t piss off the goyim.

    I mean, seriosuly, Middle, WTF do you mean by “fighting smart”? Concrete strategy please, no hand-waving.

    It is entirely possible that Hamas has done this to try to head off the much-too-slow-in-coming- but-fervently-to-be-wished internecine bloodbath between Hamas and Fatah. However, as much as I would like to think that this will magically solve all of Israel’s problems, Israel cannot just sit there and allow its people to be assaulted with impunity. If Olmert doesn’t do something, the government will fall.

    And what is happening in Gaza is just a pale shadow of what will happen in Judea and Samaria if Olmert puts his insane “realignment plan” into effect. When even Yossi Beilin is against it, you know something is wrong with it.

  • Forgive the rant – I admit I’m venting. I’ve been trying to get in to the army for months, but family matters are keeping me out for now. In light of current events… I haven’t taken it well.

  • Israel is not entangled with them already?

    Exactly – that’s the reason I put ”s around ‘disengagement’.

  • Don’t apologize, Matt. It just enourgaes them.

    I mean, is anything you said incorrect?

  • I’m not apologising for the content. That said, I’m aiming my anger and frustration at one person who, however wrong they might be, isn’t deserving of it.

  • Um, Matt, it wasn’t I who brought up biological or chemical weapons, it was you. I simply said that if anything like that happened, expect Israel to hit back in a way that is different than now. I was not proposing that this is a red line or my red line. It’s far beyond it.

    Don’t worry about the rant, I get attacked here more often than not. When I get tired of it, I go to pro-Palestinian sites and argue with them so they can attack me too.

    Ephraim, a lot of bluster there but I’ll boil it down for you. No, Israel should not be thinking about bringing down entire city blocks or killing lots of civilians. Even if they did, Gaza would still be there and the vast majority of Palestinians would still be there. Nothing would change – it’s not as if Egypt is going to open its borders. The whole idea of “really” fighting the Palestinians is ridiculous by Israel’s code of ethics as a nation. We are not Russia in Chechnya and should avoid trying to become that.

    Your point about the US in Iraq also doesn’t win you any points. Sure, we destroyed a ton of stuff there and caused regime change. However, it simply led to the type of guerilla and terror war that I think we all agree would be undesirable in Israel. By leaving Gaza, we have been able to ensure that we are not party to that type of warfare, while allowing intelligence gathering, the air force and special units to confront their terrorists and militants. That seems like smart fighting to me. If you think it’s preferable to have our current situation in Iraq over Israel’s situation in Gaza, you might want to put down that bottle.

    The $20 million bags are not coming from European nations. They are most likely coming from Muslim sources and merely prove my point again. They need to use bags because they can no longer use banks.

    As for your clever and amusing synopsis of what I advocate, you’re not far off except without the snarkiness. It is clear to me that the Palestinians want to engage Israel in Gaza. You say they’re already “entangled” but certainly not by the standard of 2 years ago. If the Palestinians want to engage us there, why would you play into their hands? You think they didn’t plan on being attacked now? You think they didn’t anticipate the IDF re-entering Gaza after this sort of attack? They want us back. They love us, they really do. Why do they want us back? Because Gaza is a hole from which Israel wanted out so it can focus on Judea and Samaria. They know this and don’t want to be forgotten. Smart warfare in this scenario is recognizing their objectives and dictating the situation ourselves. This means that instead of over-reacting to the Qassems, Israel slowly and methodically targets their leadership and militants for as long as they keep firing. Right now Israel is targeting militants and virtually no leaders because it is a poor choice from a publicity standpoint. However, that option is on the table and can be re-visited any time. Israel can do it from a distance and from the air. Israel can also warn families their homes will be destroyed and then after a few days begin to destroy homes in Qassem launching areas.

    To remind you and everyone else: Qassems were falling when Israel was inside Gaza as well.

    Killing their civilians, even when attacking their terrorists can be justified, but is highly undesirable.

  • Pish tosh, Middle. All you are saying is that if Israel is going to get shot at with Kassems, it might as well be in Sderot instead of Khan Younis.

    That is your solution?

    I’m glad that you thought my summary of your position is accurate. Such a position deserves a lot more than the snark I gave it. Is there any other way to treat a “policy” that accepts that the constant bombardment of towns inside Israel is an acceptable price for “peace”? Shame, shame, shame.

    Your point about the US in Iraq also doesn’t win you any points. Sure, we destroyed a ton of stuff there and caused regime change. However, it simply led to the type of guerilla and terror war that I think we all agree would be undesirable in Israel.

    Are you saying there isn’t a terror war in Israel? What planet are you living on? Tell that to the people in Sderot.

    special units to confront their terrorists and militants

    Which special units? Don’t hear much about them. Onesies and twosies don’t count. When Israel starts killing maybe 50-100 terrorists a week on a regular basis until they give up, we can talk about “smart fighting”.

    And what is all of this intelligence gathering in aid of if Israel doesn’t have the balls to drop bombs on terrorists when it needs to? There’s an AP picture up on the web today of at least 100 heavily-armed Fatah terrorists Sieg Heiling at a “rally”. An AP photographer knew about it and was there to take a picture. With all of Israel’s “intelligence” and “special units”, do you mean to tell me that the IDF didn’t know about this rally? Does the AP have better intel than the IDF? The only reason that those terrorists are still alive is because Israel, so far, hasn’t had the balls to simply shoot them like they should.

    This means that instead of over-reacting to the Qassems, Israel slowly and methodically targets their leadership and militants for as long as they keep firing.

    OK, get on with it. What are they waiting for?

    Right now Israel is targeting militants and virtually no leaders because it is a poor choice from a publicity standpoint.

    Ah, yes, goysih public opinion.

    However, that option is on the table and can be re-visited any time. Israel can do it from a distance and from the air. Israel can also warn families their homes will be destroyed and then after a few days begin to destroy homes in Qassem launching areas.

    OK, fine. Why don’t they get on with it?

    Anyway, if Gaza was quiet and no attacks were being perpetrated on Israel from Gaza, your point about the American invasion of Iraq making things worse and that Israel shouldn’t fall into the same trap might hold some water. However, Gaza is not quiet and stable. You say that there are fewer Kassems now than before. Like I said, tell that to the people in Sderot.

    Anyway, why do you think I advocate a re-occupation of Gaza? I’m not saying re-occupy it, I’m saying treat it as a battlefield. Not the same thing. The only thing that will stop terrorists is killing them. In large numbers. If this can be accomplished from the air, fine. But I don’t think it’s possible.

    It is because Israel has shown that it can “live with” a few rockets on s poor development town that the Kassems are still flying. That is my primary objection to the entire basis of your argument, which is nicely illustrated by the following statement:

    The whole idea of “really” fighting the Palestinians is ridiculous by Israel’s code of ethics as a nation.

    Again, you’re not serious right? Are you really saying that Israel cannot seriously fight a real war with people who are sworn to its destruction because of Jewish ethics? And you accuse me of drinking?

    We are not Russia in Chechnya and should avoid trying to become that

    Who said we have to become beasts like the Russians? Carrying the fight to the enemy does not mean we have to sink to their level. The fact that you automatically assume that seriously engaging with the terrorists must necessitate this kind of barbarity is precisely the problem. All this means is that you are defeated from the get go. With such a policy, israel can never win.

    Now, this is a sensible policy:

    http://www.nysun.com/article/35123

  • Ephraim, Halkin’s proposals are not that different from mine. He’s not going into Gaza, merely calling to treat the PA as an enemy state and to consider all of the leadership as targets. I agree with both ideas.

  • Jesus, Middle, are you deliberately being obtuse? I mean, when you declare someboy an enemy state and they shoot at you, what do you do? You declare war on them and fight them until they are defeated. This will require an invasion of Gaza, unless Israel decides to level it from the air.

    Declaring war on the PA and not changing the policy that has prevailed up to now will not do anything but make Israel a laughingstock. War means war. Targeted killings of “leaders” is certainly a part of any war plan, but it cannot be the only part. If Israel is to declare war, as I think they should have done long ago, hard ground fighting is inevitable. Just killing their leaders will not cut it. The rank-and-file terrorists have to be killed as well. And that means sending in the army.

  • From Halkin’s article:

    Israel should therefore say to this government: “The charade is over. While we are willing to negotiate through neutral parties a prisoner exchange involving Gilad Shalit, we are also declaring war on you. From now on we will treat you as any country treats another country it is at war with. We will close all our borders with you, cease providing you with all services, and consider any branch of your government, any of its members, and anyone on your side contributing to your military effort, legitimate war targets. We will do our very best to avoid harming civilians, and we will expect you to do the same, but anyone else, from Prime Minister Ismail Heniya down, is from now until further notice a legitimate target. And when you’re ready to sue for peace-and-quiet, let us know.”

    That doesn’t sound like staying out of Gaza and only targeting the leadership to me. That sounds likr cutting off the power and water to Gaza and the WB and shooting anything that even vaguely looks like a terrorist.

    And you think something like this can be done without sending in the army?

  • The problem isn’t sending the army in, Ephraim, it’s getting them back out. We were just in there 18 months ago with an army and nothing happened except that they had lots of babies.

    Anyway, it’s looking like the IDF is about to go back in. Every Israel soldier who dies is a shameful waste of life; somebody’s son who is gone forever. Even if that soldier dies, we will leave Gaza again because there is nothing there for us. Let’s stop wasting our lives. We know how to reach their leaders and fighters. From the air and with special forces. It’s a much smarter way to fight.

  • Dream on, Middle. War can’t be won that way unless you are willing to treat the whole of Gaza as a free-fire range. And you’re the one who doesn’t want to be seen as a Russian barbarian?

    You kill one or two terrorists with a Hellfire enema, there are always going to be more of them. This does not only give them breathing room, it doesn’t stop the Kassems at all, as we have seen.

    And like I said, you’re not listening to me. Blockade Gaza, shut off the water and power, send in the army, kill a few thousand terrorists, pull back. When they try to regroup, shoot them again. There is no need to leave the army in there to cooupy the place.

  • That’s what war is, Middle. Do you think it is impossible for the IDF to do just that? Or just inadvisable?

    Anyway, if reports are to be believed, the terrorists are swarming to face the IDF, setting up road blocks, bunkers, etc. and telling the residents to leave.

    A target-rich environment and a free-fire zone. Such a deal.

  • Every Israeli soldier who dies is a shameful waste of a life.

    Is there anything you want to add to that to make it sound less disgusting?

    Incidentally, would you at least tell me where Israel’s current red lines are?

  • Well, it’s all academic now. They’ve gone in.

    Matt, since I’m not privy to discussion in the Israeli government, I haven’t a clue. And there’s nothing disgusting about what I said. If you can attack from the air and prevent losses of soldiers, you are better off doing so. Israel learned that in Jenin.

  • Ah yes, the mythical omnipotence of air power.

    You cannot hold ground – even temporarily – with air power alone, especially in urban areas. To search for Shalit, there need to be soldiers on the ground.

    Case in point:

    How well has air power done in keeping down the threat from Gaza? There still need to be combat troops ringing the fence itself.

    RE Jenin, the troops had to fight there way to what became the main battlefield. I suppose they could have called for artillery every time they came under fire, and I’d be fine with that.

    From what you’ve said, though, I don’t think you have the stomach for the Arab casualties. The Israeli government sure as hell doesn’t. The IAF can’t even hit their target without Olmert apologising and Peretz calling himself a ‘man of peace’.

    Incidentally, is it wise, during open warfare, to have a defence minister who refers to himself as a man of peace?

    From Shy Guy’s link:

    “Upon leaving the area, Israel announced before the world that it would respond in the harshest manner possible to any attack against it originating in evacuated areas, and we have complete legitimacy to do so. No nation can stand for constant and intense missile fire on its cities and towns or attacks on its sovereign territory. Therefore, if need be, we will implement harsher military measures than we have in the past in order to protect Israeli citizens.”

    What will that involve?

    “I am convinced that the way that the prime minister and I are leading, with the support of the security-political cabinet and the whole of the government, is a way that does not reject the intelligent use of the various levels of military force at our disposal, but does not see the use of force as necessarily the correct way. Rather, the great force and capabilities of the IDF behoove us to show restraint, self-control and a sense of proportion, both for moral and political reasons.

    “It is actually the IDF’s force that gives the policy-makers the diplomatic and political room that they need for crisis management, especially because the fight against terror is not won in one hit. The desired goal is not death or destruction, but dialogue, compromise, security and peace.”

    So, less force, and force only intended to encourage the usual pointless ‘dialogue’ and ‘peace process’.

    I thought the job of the defence minister is death and destruction.

    RE red lines, would you at least agree that they have a tendency to shift whenever the Arabs push hard enough?

  • Amen, Matt, Amen.

    My suggestion:

    From minute 1, cut off all utility services. Drop flyers on the northern 3rd of Gaza that if the captured soldier and civilian are not returned within 1 hour, the area will be flattened by bombing, ground troops will capture the area, it will be declared as permanent integral lands of the State of Israel and they have another day to think about the next 3rd of Gaza.

    Did I mention flattening the Muqata, when all Very Important Pallies are inside?

    Should have been done over a decade and 1000’s of lives and casualties ago.

  • Oh, yeah, that’ll scare the terrorists real good, Amir. Smooth move, Exlax.

    Jesus H. Fucking Keerist. What a fucking idiot.

    You know, warning them again and again that this time I’m going to hit you real, real hard if you don’t behave only works if you, you know, kinda mean it a little. What this means is you have to hit them when you say you’re going to. Time outs are for 5 year olds.

    If you cannot even get it up to raise the black flag and cut a few throats (as H.L Menken would say) when they fucking invade your country and capture one of your soldiers, then you might as well just grab your ankles and say “Go ahead, I don’t need any lube” because you are, after all, their bitch.

    Time for a new election.

  • Matt, I agree the red lines shift and do believe that is unacceptable.

    I agree that Peretz is handling this situation very poorly and watching a befuddled and apologetic Defense Minister is scary. He really needs to let a pro take over since he is unlikely to retire.

    I would have recommended artillery softening of Jenin, especially since the IDF circled the town for a couple of days warning its citizens to leave (as they’re doing now with Bet Hanoun). Once the citizens had fair warning and are gone, it’s fair game and not a single soldier should die if bombing the place can do the job.

    We are in agreement that you need ground forces for many things. You don’t need them for all things. This attack on Kerem Shalom was simply poorly handled by the IDF. They knew it was coming, they knew more or less where it would be and they didn’t respect their adversary and were caught off guard anyway. The commanders should be dismissed if what has been written about this incident is borne out by the investigations.

    Having said all of that, let’s wish the IDF forces in Gaza now a safe and successful mission with minimal casualties.

  • I’m glad you concur. Presumably you’d agree that re-establishing those red lines would require something drastic?

    Why would you recommend softening up an entire city with artillery? Ultimately, you need to have soldiers there to tell the artillery what needs to be destroyed (UAVs can do this to some extent, but the aerial view cannot show jihadis hiding in houses).

    Yes, Kerem Shalom reflected poorly on the IDF. That said, holding the same position for years on end makes you sloppy.

    But yes, best of luck to the troops.

  • Ultimately you need the soldiers, not initially. Why do I recommend it? Because lives are more important than buildings. The Israeli forces in Jenin ultimately used bulldozers to do the job because it was so dangerous to enter houses.

    I have no idea what you mean by “something drastic.” Going into Gaza with a small army seems pretty aggressive, although targeting relevant Hamas leaders would be just as aggressive and perhaps more effective with less cost and risk.

  • To be clear, you are saying the IDF should have flattened Jenin with artillery? Bearing in mind that a city that size could probably not evacuate fully for several days.

    Going in to Gaza with a small army, and using it to seize empty, uncontested land is a demonstration of weakness. 3000-5000 men with enough hardware to re-enact the Battle of Kursk, and they’ve been ordered to hold empty ground. Ground Peretz wants to trade for Shalit. ‘Drastic’, my ass.

    ‘Drastic’ would be bombing the PLC – their ‘parliament’ – while it is in full session.

  • Your “drastic” would be counter-productive, by a long shot.

    The IDF gave Jenin 3 days warning and it was effective. That’s why so few Palestinian civilians were killed in what was a large scale operation. But yes, that’s what I’m advocating.

    And we’re agreed that Peretz is severely underperforming.

    On the other hand, no civilians or soldiers are dead yet.

  • So would be Israel’s diplomatic relations with the rest of the world for the next couple of decades. What you’re proposing is what happens if they cross the WMD type of red line. Kidnapping a soldier or launching a Qassem or even 1000 do not warrant that type of response. Come on.

  • Matt is right. Sending thousands of troops into Gaza to hold empty land and buildings is a sign of weakness, not strength.

    This has been going on for more than a day now. But I don’t see any headlines like “IDF Kills XXX Terrorists in Pitched Battle”.

    WTF is going on? How come they are not engaging the enemy and killing them? Something is wrong. I hope that this is just a tactical decision, where th IDF has decided to wait to find out for sure the fate of Shalit before they start to take out the garbage. However, judging from What Amir Putz is on record as saying it sounds as though they’re just being chickenshit.

    Middle, you’re being schizo. Is Dr. Jekyll your pharmacist or something? In one breath you say Israel shouldn’t be like the Russians in Chechnya, in the next breath you’re saying the IDF should flatten the place with artillery. Who’s the barbarian now?

    And how would eliminating the Hamas leadership screw up Israel’s international reputation for decades to come? Aren’t you the one who just told us that the world was boycotting them? If the world detests them so much it shouldn’t care if Israel waxes them.

    And isdn’t it you who said that targeting the leadership is better than sending in the army? I guess you mean that targeting them a little is OK, but really targeting them is verboten. I just can’t take you seriously anymore. You’re all over the map.

    And you still just don’t get it: the doctrine of “calibrated response” that you advocate was a failure in Vietnam and it is a failure here. Why? Because it’s stupid. In a boxing match, does the boxer say “Well, he’s only throwing jabs at me. I guess I’ll stick with jabs too. Wouldn’t want to knock him out, after all.” I mean that’s pretty fucking stupid, right? You know anybody who boxes like that?

    Hamas’ official policy is the destruction of Israel. Is there any reason on this whole green earth that Israel should show them any mercy whatsoever?

  • Ephraim, you can be tiresome sometimes -not everything has to be extreme or black and white. THE MIDDLE is a good place to be as well. Certain actions require certain responses. Since this is all hypothetical I’ve responded to scenarios you guys have been presenting.

    I’d rather not go into Gaza. Period. If this is the way the IDF believes they can get this young soldier out, then I trust their judgement and hope they get in there and get out with as few casualties among Palestinian civilians and Israeli soldiers as possible. I agree with targeting and killing as many of their combatants as possible since this is war, but what exactly would you accomplish by destroying other stuff or killing Palestinian civilians other than more propaganda for them?

    Targeting their entire parliament (how often does it meet anyway, once a month, once a year?) is not acceptable. We don’t know who is who in there and it’s just random killing. This type of wholesale attack will definitely be rebuked by just about everybody in the world and very harshly. It’s simply a stupid idea so why are we even discussing it? Nobody merits a death sentence unless they actively engage in terror or war activities. Would you agree that it’s okay to target for death those Israelis who want to entirely remove Palestinians from Gaza, Judea or Samaria?

    As for leveling towns, that’s also not something I advocate. If somebody I trust in these matters feels, as Sharon did in 2002, that going into, say, Jenin would help eliminate terror to a large degree, then I understand going in there. If I go in there, however, I want to suffer minimal casualties for Israel and maximum casualties of Palestinian combatants. If you accomplish that by destroying houses with artillery first ( which they didn’t do), then that’s superior to lives being lost. This isn’t about revenge or teaching anybody a lesson, it’s about the best and most practical way to win a war. And yes, fighting should be done to win, of course.

  • Jesus. I don’t believe this. You’re equating the actions of the Hamas government with the opinions of some extremist Israeli nutjobs now? Are these extremist Israelis controlling the Knesset and carrying out attacks? No. Hamas is. Not the same thing at all.

    And how does being an active member of a governent sworn to the destruction of Israel absolve these people? Hitler never actually killed any Jews personally so far as I know.

    This is not a cop and robber law and order situation. It’s a war. These people are members of an enemy government. They are all fair game.

    And why, why, why do you constantly insinuate that I advocate destroying other stuff or killing Palestinian civilians? Where did I ever say that?

    You seem to think that going into Jenin was a good way to stop terror. How is going into Gaza not a good way to stop terror?

    As for leveling towns, that’s also not something I advocate.

    Oh yeah?

    If you accomplish that by destroying houses with artillery first then that’s superior to lives being lost.

    I’d rather be tiresome than incoherent and mealy-mouthed any day.

  • Ephraim, not everybody in Hamas has engaged in terrorism. Even government members who support the destruction of Israel are not automatic targets for killing merely because of this support. You have to be actively involved as a combatant, as a terrorist, as the person who plans or sends out the terrorist. This is precisely the slippery slope of targeted killings and why strong discipline and ethics are required when you go down that path. Those Hamas government or group members who don’t participate in attacks are no different than some of the wacky nutjobs on the peripheries of Israel’s Right and I would say some on Israel’s Left and you wouldn’t kill them just like that, would you? You’d call that terrorism, as would I.

    Not everybody is fair game, even in war. There are also gradations of war and one has to be sensitive to that.

    Gaza is not Jenin. I also don’t advocate destroying towns. If you need to go in there, though, I believe you are better off using artillery first.

    It’s simple, Ephraim, not everything is black and white.

  • You want to use artillery to destroy particular houses? Earlier you wanted to ‘soften up’ the whole city – pretty random, no? Jenin is a big place.

    There is no dispute that the Hamas ‘political’ wing is intimately connected with the ‘military’ wing. These ‘legislators’ are senior leaders of a terrorist group. I don’t give a shit if they didn’t drive a bomber to a cafe, or hide bomb-belts in their kitchen. They’re the local leaders of Hamas, and they are probably are intimately involved in local terror funding and operations. Some probably sit on the city/town charity committee, which are controlled by Hamas to fund terror cells and the dawa. Others, like that Farhat woman, recruited her own sons to blow themselves up.

    Why would it be ‘random’? Senior members of a terrorist group (of several groups, come to think of it) gathering in the same place is the definition of a military target.

    Gradations of war? We wouldn’t want to ‘escalate’, right? Just keep things at a low burn and accept the drip-drip-drip of killings and attacks.

  • Let’s play a little word-switch game, shall we?

    “Ephraim, not everybody in the Nazi Party has engaged in terrorism. Even Nazi Party members who support the murder of all the Jews in Europe are not automatic targets for killing merely because of this support. You have to be actively involved as a member of the Einsatzgruppen or a death-camp guard, as a member of the Wehrmacht, as the SS officer who plans or sends out the death squads.

    It’s simple Middle. Some things are black and white.

  • No, Gaza isn’t Jenin because this isn’t 2002 and suicide bombings and snipings and overall deaths and maimings of Israelis are significantly lower. Gaza isn’t Jenin because it is behind a barrier that has prevented there being a significant number of Palestinian attacks on Israel. They use Qassems because they find it very difficult to use anything else. In 2002 Jenin was a primary source of attacks and attackers on Israeli civilians.

    Ephraim, Hamas may think like the Nazis about Jews but there’s a significant difference between the resources of Hamas versus the Nazis. I know you can figure out the rest by extrapolating from that so save me the typing.

    Matt, modern artillery can be very precise and Israeli intelligence has technology and resources that do allow some targeting of particular homes and areas. Not all of Jenin was the center of activity in 2002 and ultimately, a very small portion constituted the key areas of battle between the two sides. Softening them with artillery is quite different than bombarding the entire town. Why do you keep taking credit away from the ethical nature of the warfare that Israel can and does fight in order to make your false point that I want some wholesale attack on the Palestinians after you first criticized me for not being harsh enough on the Palestinians.

    What I want is simple, do your best to avoid harming non-combatants, do your best to avoid any Israeli casualties or deaths. Do it without resorting to destruction for the sake of destruction, but for practical reasons that make sense in the context of the battle and the general war. And yes, it is war and sometimes you will have to do things like destroy a neighborhood to ensure the safety of your soldiers. If you do it, it should be because the neighborhood is critical to the fight and because you are safeguarding your troops. Do it, as Israel has done, by warning away non-combatants first.

    As to your point about bombing the Palestinian parliament, Israel is giving you the answer as we write. Half of them are now in Israeli prison and some will face criminal trials on the basis of their terror activities. Do you see an international outcry? The G8 expressed some mild discomfort and the pro-Palestinians and loonie Leftists on the extremes are upset about it. No deaths involved, no bombing, no international boycotts, just a simple, quiet military operation which achieves the same goals.

    And yes, there are gradations of war and a drip drip is better than escalation. Think about the period between 1970-1973 and then think about the Yom Kippur War. What’s better? Think about our current situation on the Lebanese border and compare to 1985-2000. Look at the Palestinian War of 2000 from 2001 to 2003 and compare to the past year. Escalation just ensures that lots of people die at one time, including Israelis. Drip drips mean that many fewer die over a much longer period. And you know what? With the drip drip, Israel becomes bigger, stronger, richer, with fewer wasted resources or lives. It doesn’t have to be this way but because of the Palestinians’ behavior during this drip drip, they become weaker, poorer and less able to challenge Israel. Again, compare 2002 to now.

    So relax, fellas, and stop thinking you’re in a John Wayne movie. There are times when all-out war is necessary, but not in the present state of the Arab-Israel conflict.

  • Distinction without a difference, Middle.

    And typical of you to think we think we’re in a John Wayne movie. Shallow and facile, as usual.

  • You can saw wood into pieces, or, you can just keep sanding it and sanding it, until it becomes a pile of sawdust, a little bit at a time. Shelling the Israeli border towns amounts to this. The people may just plain move away, ceding territory. Then it happens again and again until you are standing on one foot on your last patch of ground, which is too small for both of your feet.

  • I’m perfectly calm, Middle. I’m just tired of wasting my time talking to someone who can’t seem to make up his mind about what he really thinks and wants to have it both ways.

    I realize there are gradations to war. I also realize that Hamas doesn’t have the resources of Nazi Germany. That is because the world stood around and let Nazi Germany become powerful instead of nipping them in the bud. If the Brits and the French had acted forcefully when Hitler re-militarized the Rhineland, war could have been averted. Instead, they dithered and we all know what happened.

    Israel cannot and should not dither with Hamas or pooh-pooh them now just because they’re weak. We know who and what they are. Now is precisely the time to stop them, when they are weak. Waiting until they are strong will only cost more lives later.

    Anyway, I am not advocating all-out war in the “Arab-Israeli conflict” as you call it. I am only advocating all-out war against Hamas.

    And, no, that does not mean just turnung Gaza into rubble. But it does mean fighting them with the goal of militarily defeating them to the extent that this is possible. I leave how to best do this up to the IDF.

  • Ephraim, another comment another insult. I don’t want to hurt your feelings but my position is clear and also isn’t shallow or facile. What it is, is somewhat different than yours.

  • Hurt my feelings? That’s just about as funny as most of the other stuff you’ve written here.

    For you to hurt my feelings I’d have to care what you think about me first.

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