The Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

IDF strikes on Gaza’s terrorists should be intense and aimed at causing severe damage to the intermediate level of command, infrastructure and weapons.

The outrage in Israel over the deaths and the continuous, intense firing of rockets on the center of the country prompts a discussion about the option of military force. There is no doubt that the IDF has the upper hand in achieving this goal, if it is asked to do so. It is also important to illustrate to Hamas leaders that in their unbridled conduct, they are hastening the moment where this will be inevitable.

At the same time, when widespread regional flare-ups around the Iranian nuclear crisis can erupt at any time, there are other considerations, no less legitimate, that require prudent and calculated conduct.

In the absence of a political alternative – seeing as how Mahmoud Abbas will not enter Gaza on an Israeli tank – an extensive ground operation to overthrow Hamas could bring the IDF into a state of continuous rule over a distinctly hostile population, and all that it entails. This is not the time to divert the gaze and center of gravity of Israel’s capabilities from the threat on the northern front, and from the need to leave all options open against Iran and its metastases.

The definition the army gave to its objectives in Operation Pillar of Defense are once again being heard, as they were on previous occasions: a “weakened and deterred” Hamas. But in the unique circumstances of Operation Guardian of Walls, one must be more precise and say “(very) weakened and (very) deterred”.

The IDF blows should be intense and aimed at causing severe damage to the intermediate level of command, infrastructure and weapons. It is important that the blow reverberates with a reluctance for future military confrontation for years to come. In doing so, it is important to unequivocally sever any connection between the end of the round of fighting in Gaza and Jerusalem, or the status of Israeli Arabs.

Israel is not alone in having a stake in Hamas not gaining any grip on the Temple Mount, thereby undermining the status of the camp of stability in the Arab world: the consequences of such an achievement for terrorism will be far-reaching. Even if many in the Arab world protest against Israel’s actions, their actual interest is to prevent Hamas from gaining any achievements in this arena. To the same extent, it must be ensured that Hamas does not have the power to channel the dangerous attitudes on the Arab street in Israel for its own political needs.

Published in Israel Hayom 12.05.2021

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