Richard Kemp
Richard KempPR photo

Israel achieved the goals it set for itself in Gaza, causing Hamas leaders to “run for their lives”, Colonel Richard Kemp told Arutz Sheva this week.

Colonel Kemp travelled to Israel on the outbreak of Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza, in order to gain a firsthand insight into the conflict and be able to provide an objective analysis of the fighting between the IDF and Gaza terrorist groups.

While in Israel he held talks with high level IDF and government officials, visited IDF units and spent much time in the Gaza border area as well as in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

In 2009, Kemp gave evidence to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, refuting Judge Richard Goldstone’s allegations concerning war crimes supposedly conducted by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead. For this evidence Kemp drew on his independent assessment of the Gaza conflict, his 30 years’ counter-terrorism experience and his knowledge of the Israeli defense and intelligence organizations gained during his military service and while working in the UK Prime Minister’s Office.

“I think it’s a tragedy that [Operation Pillar of Defense] had to happen,” Kemp said, “but after 1,000 missiles being fired from Gaza into the Israeli civilian population over the last year and a build-up of 120 in a short period of time, I don’t think the Israel Defense Forces had any other choice other than to mount the operation.”

Kemp said he was impressed with the accuracy of Israeli intelligence in targeting senior Hamas terrorists during the operation, and noted that out of 177 Gazans killed during the operation, some 120 were terrorists.

“Every civilian casualty is a great tragedy, but unfortunately when you’re fighting an enemy like Hamas which uses the civilian population to shield itself, this is an unfortunate outcome and the only other choice is to allow them to carry on hammering the rockets into Israel,” he said.

Kemp, a former commander of the UK forces in Afghanistan, said the targeted killings of Hamas terrorists were important, explaining that similar actions by the U.S. and the UK against Al-Qaeda terrorists have significantly damaged its abilities to hit Western targets.

“I think that the targeted killing of Hamas’s leadership has done untold damage to Hamas,” he said. “Hamas talks big now, it’s talking victory, but actually it’s been very severely damaged: both their leadership and also their munitions.”

Kemp added, “I believe that Israel has accomplished the mission it set out to achieve. I know there’s a lot of dissatisfaction that Hamas has not been dealt an absolutely fatal blow but I don’t think that was ever Prime Minister Netanyahu’s objective. He could have gone on to obliterate Hamas but that would’ve taken a lengthy and extremely costly ground campaign.”