Daily Israel Report

Stopping Gaza Terror: Militarily, or by Siege?

Opinions are divided in the nationalist camp: some demand an IDF offensive now. Others suggest the cutting off of all resources to Gaza first.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 12/18/2007, 6:32 PM

Though many in the nationalist camp are pushing for a large-scale offensive, or even an all-out invasion to fight Gaza-Hamas terrorism, some prefer trying other tactics first.  Former Defense and Foreign Minister Moshe Arens and Chaim Yoavi-Rabinowitz weigh in.

Yoavi-Rabinowitz, a long-time Likud party member who writes frequently on issues concerning the integrity of the Land of Israel, quotes reports stating that a full-scale offensive could cost 100 IDF casualties.  Yoavi-Rabinowitz writes:
The IDF abandoned its positions in the Gaza Strip at Sharon's orders, and now, in order to return to the exact same positions, we have to pay with 100 dead soldiers! Who should pay this price??


"The IDF abandoned its positions in the Gaza Strip at [ex-Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon's orders, and now, in order to return to the exact same positions, we have to pay with 100 dead soldiers! Who will bear the responsibility for it?"

"It is worth noting," Yoavi-Rabinowitz notes, "that during the expulsion of the Jews of Gush Katif from their homes, they warned that Kassam rockets would fall in Sderot and Ashkelon, and that they themselves would be required to send their sons to return to Gaza - but the people of Kadima, the left-wing and the media scorned them."

What does Yoavi-Rabinowitz propose? "If we have already stupidly run away from Gaza, then let us truly disengage totally and absolutely from Gaza. We should close off all the passages, and stop all deliveries of fuel, electricity and money. Let the Egyptians worry about their brothers in Gaza. Within two weeks, the rockets will stop - and if not, then we can talk about other offensive action."

The author bitingly suggests that if an IDF offensive is nonetheless launched, it should be carried out by, among others, "the sons of the politicians who voted for the Disengagement, the soldiers and policemen who perpetrated the actual expulsion and destruction, the policemen who brutally beat the anti-expulsion demonstrators, and the sons of the journalists who explained to us how great life would be after we run away from Gaza."

Moshe Arens: No Other Choice
On the other hand, former three-time Defense Minister Moshe Arens, also of the Likud, disagrees with the basic premise.  Writing in Haaretz on Monday, Arens declares that the fear of many casualties "is pure speculation. After months of preparation and training, and given the almost unlimited superiority of the IDF over the militants in the Gaza Strip, there is no reason why the cost should turn out to be prohibitive. In any case, all agree that the cost will only escalate as time goes by.  Those who consider it difficult at this time will surely find it impossible in the future."

Arens says the time to attack is now: "The army's chief-of-staff has said what everybody, other than this government's ministers, knows - that the only way to stop the rockets from coming down on the heads of the population living near the Gaza Strip is for the IDF to move in and move the rockets out of range."

Asked about the efficacy of cutting off electricity and other supplies to Gaza, Arens told Arutz-7 that this would simply not work: "The only way to protect the citizens of the south from the rockets in Gaza is to go in there." 
The only way to stop the rockets from coming down on the heads of the population living near the Gaza Strip is for the IDF to move in and move the rockets out of range.


Presented with the ethical argument against requiring citizens who objected to the expulsion to risk their lives to return to Gaza, Arens said, "The government, most of which supported the Disengagement, is well aware of this, and knows that an offensive in Gaza is an admission that they made a big mistake - as most of the country now believes.  But there is currently no other choice."

In response to the hackneyed claim that "Kassam rockets rained down on Israel even when the IDF was in Gaza," Arens writes that this is misleading: "The IDF left most of the Gaza Strip in the wake of the Oslo agreements, almost 15 years ago... From the limited areas in which the IDF was present prior to the disengagement, no rockets were fired against Israel. There is no reason to expect that rockets will be launched from areas which the IDF controls."

To those who say that once the IDF enters Gaza, it will not be able to leave, Arens says, "It is just this mindset that led to the fiasco of the Second Lebanon War... The prime minister's management of that war was labeled a 'failure' in the Winograd's Committee's interim report. But although the government claims to have implemented this report, they seem to have learned nothing. We are seeing daily a repetition of this failure in Sderot."

Close to 7,000 Kassam rockets and mortar shells have been fired from Gaza into southern Israel. The government is currently considering an IDF offensive into Gaza to halt the ongoing rocket attacks. Two mortar shells were fired Tuesday evening, following the IDF airstrikes which killed senior Arab terrorists.