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IDF Reserves Col.: 'We'll Have to Return to Gaza'

Col. (res.) Moshe Hager, deputy division commander in Operation Defensive Shield, says Israel will soon have no choice but to do the same in Gaza.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 3/24/2010, 10:52 AM / Last Update: 3/24/2010, 11:09 AM

The heating-up of the Gaza front – about a dozen rockets were fired at Israel last week, killing one Thai worker - brings to mind Operation Defensive Shield, whose eighth anniversary is commemorated at this time.

In light of the three-week military offensive’s success in combating terrorism, Col. (res.) Rabbi Moshe Hager, who was a deputy commander of an IDF division at the time, says Israel will soon have no choice but to do the same in Gaza.

“We must remember what it was like in Judea and Samaria eight years ago,” Col. Hager told Arutz-7’s Benny Toker on Wednesday. “It was a time when even in Gilo [in southern Jerusalem], one could not walk upright for fear of Arab rockets from nearby Beit Jalla, and there were terror attacks almost every day. Operation Defensive Shield brought about a total change.”

Asked to explain why Defensive Shield had such an effect while last year’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza did not, Hager said, “It’s very simple: The IDF remained in Judea and Samaria afterwards and continued doing the dirty work, day and night, of making arrests and not allowing the terrorists to reorganize. But after Cast Lead, the IDF did not remain in Gaza, and that’s the whole difference. The anti-terrorism fence/wall is of secondary importance: wherever we are not present, the security gets worse, and their rockets and terror capabilities get better. We cannot solve the problem without being on the spot.”

Col. Rabbi Hager is convinced that sooner or later, Israel will be forced to return to Gaza for another round of fighting. “The only question is when. If and when Hamas decides to escalate the situation, it will happen then. It is unthinkable to continue as is, with rockets randomly fired at Israel whenever the terrorists feel like it; the State of Israel is responsible for the security of its citizens.”

“Israel must not, under any circumstances, make any changes in Judea and Samaria,” Hager said, “such as giving security control to the forces that U.S. General Dayton is training there. All the weapons there will end up in Hamas hands… I hope that the Prime Minister will remain true to what he said before his Bar-Ilan University speech against any major change there. But if he deviates from this approach, then I imagine we will have to prepare politically to prevent this from happening.

“I assume that if we return to total control over Gaza, as there was until 1993, then perhaps the Gazans too will realize, like the Arabs in Judea and Samaria, that it is worth it for them to have quiet and raise their families nicely,” Hager concluded.