Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza: Strategic Perspectives

(Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University) Giora Eiland - In Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel defined the enemy as a terrorist organization, which in fact it is not. Gaza is de facto a state in every sense, and it is therefore proper to deal with it as such. Regarding it as a state offers the option of inflicting damage to its national infrastructures during a military confrontation. It was possible to expand the operation by massively attacking all targets of infrastructure and governance in Gaza. The Second Lebanon War included one particularly effective mission - the massive attack on Hizbullah's high command in Beirut, which created the so-called Dahiya doctrine. The deterrence vis-a-vis Hizbullah that has prevailed since 2006 is largely attributable to the destruction of the Dahiya suburb in southern Beirut. Some say that Israel paid a steep price for the ceasefire agreement because it granted Hamas a great deal of international legitimacy. But one could also argue that Israel paid no price whatsoever and that this outcome is in Israel's interest, as the world will now relate to Gaza as a state entity. Moreover, it is in Israel's interest that foreign parties visit Gaza and infuse it with capital and generate an economic boom. The more the Hamas government is required to meet the standard of state-like responsibility and the more the economic situation improves and construction of civilian infrastructures increases, the more the government in Gaza will be restrained in attacking Israel. It is impossible to prevent smuggling from Egypt into Gaza if efforts at prevention begin and end with the Gaza-Egypt border. Even when the IDF was in control of the area (until 2005), it was only partly successful. There are two actions Egypt can take to prevent smuggling if it wished to do so. One is to take more effective action deep in the Sinai Peninsula and even within Egypt itself. The second is to build a barrier about four km. west of Gaza with only a single transit point under tight security control. No one would dig a four km.-long tunnel. Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland is a former Israeli National Security Advisor.

2013-01-03 00:00:00

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