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More Calls to Conquer Large Parts of Gaza

Ex-Gaza Division Commander: short-term offensives against Gazan terrorists are ineffective, the IDF must conquer both northern Gaza & the Egypt-Gaza border, and gov't ministers are talking nonsense.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 11/15/2006, 11:30 AM / Last Update: 11/15/2006, 12:20 PM

On the backdrop of today's fatal Kassam rocket attack that killed a woman in Sderot and cost a man both of his legs, Col. (ret.) Moti Yogev (pictured) told Voice of Israel Radio what he thinks must be done.

Yogev spoke shortly after Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) said that a military offensive must go together with diplomatic negotiations - a position also expressed this week by Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh and other government officials.

Asked what he thinks of this stance, Yogev responded sharply. "It's true that in general military activity must be accompanied by negotiations," he said, "but in this case, the Kassam rockets are a direct result not only of the terrorists who fire them, but of the wantonness, lack of professionalism and irresponsibility of this government and its ministers. This includes Minister Sheetrit, who is talking nonsense... The government is not implementing the most basic effective measures to fulfill its basic responsibility to protect the citizens of Sderot and the western Negev."

Asked what can be done militarily that has not already been tried, Yogev said, "The various offensives recently carried out by the IDF are limited and ineffective. They hit from afar, they cause things like what happened in Beit Hanoun [20 civilians killed by an errant artillery shell - ed.], and they de-legitimize our ability to act. There is no way to stop these rockets and the terrorists' mad dash to arm themselves other than to do these two things: Take over the Philadelphi Route [on the Egypt-southern Gaza border] for years to come as a permanent policy, and to capture all of northern Gaza, as we did in Shechem four years ago in Operation Defensive Shield. It will be a difficult mission, but the government owes it to the residents of the Negev and Sderot and Ashkelon - and to others, who live in areas that the rockets may soon be able to reach."

Yogev was asked, "What about hitting those, such as Khaled Meshaal in Damascus, who give the orders to fire the rockets?"

His response: "To prevent Gaza from turning into a massive terrorist base against Israel, there is no substitute other than to conquer the place from which the Kassams are being fired - and this means from the northern Gaza border, where Elei Sinai and Nitzanit used to stand, all the way down to [the former Jewish community of] Netzarim, including Gaza City, Beit Lahiya, Beit Hanoun, Jebalya and the like. Let it not be said that we will just be repeating the situation of two years ago; since we left Gaza in 1994 under the Oslo Accords, we have never had control of these areas, except for a few days at a time in totally ineffective operations. They were ineffective even as they were happening; when we were in Beit Hanoun, they shot from another town, and when we left, they came back to Beit Hanoun and shot from there again. Our presence in Judea and Samaria prevents over 90% of the attacks there. This is the only way, and whoever thought otherwise was mistaken and must admit this now."