A year ago, after two months of fighting in Gaza and millions of Israelis in bomb shelters, the Israeli ‘elephant’ succeeded in fighting off the Gazan ‘fly’ – and to convince itself that it had won the war. To understand what really happened, here is an excerpt from the book that I am writing:
On October 11, 2011, the Netanyahu government authorized an agreement with the Hamas according to which 1027 dangerous terrorists in Israeli jails – some of them convicted of the murder of hundreds of Israelis – would be released in exchange for the captive IDF soldier, Gilad Shalit. It was a total collapse of Israel’s security doctrine; the crossing of a red line that even Olmert’s government did not dare to overstep.
But why not ignore the red line? If you recognize that this is their land, then they are not really terrorists, but rather, ‘freedom fighters’ who are not subject to the rules of the West (Geneva Convention).
The bloody result of the terrorist release was not long in coming. At the start of his third government, Netanyahu surrendered to US pressure and as a ‘goodwill gesture’ to Abu Mazen, asked the cabinet to approve the release of many more terrorists in four stages.
It was at the beginning of my term as a Knesset Member and I attempted to convince the ideological MKs in the Likud and Jewish Home to vote in favor of the annual budget only on the condition that the terrorist release would be removed from the Knesset agenda. The MKs did not follow through and I was the only Coalition MK who voted against the budget. The cabinet approved the prisoner release and three of the four were implemented.
Hossam Kawasmeh from Hebron was released in the Shalit deal. On June 12, 2014, Kawasmeh orchestrated the abduction and murder of the three Jewish teens, Gilad Shaer, Naftali Frankel and Eyal Yifrach, may G-d avenge their blood. Kawasmeh was the commander of the terror cell that perpetrated the abduction and murder.
The search for the teens developed into a thorough search and arrest of Hamas cells – which had proliferated since the massive terror releases – in Judea and Samaria. The Hamas reacted by intensifying its rocket attacks against southern Israel and attacking Israeli towns from tunnels that had been dug from the Gaza Strip.
Once again, Israel found itself trapped in the Oslo syndrome, sucked into another round of fighting – bereft of a moral foundation to back up its combat soldiers and incapable of defining the identity of the enemy. Israel could not destroy the undefined enemy and could not win the war.
At the onset of the fighting, the goal was defined as the ‘cessation of the rocket attacks on Israel’. When the Hamas began attacking Israeli towns from its tunnels, the goal was altered to ‘the destruction of the tunnels’.
“I don’t remember ever being chased by a tunnel,” I said to the most senior IDF command. “Please explain to me, who is the enemy?” At that time, rocket had already been exploding in Tel Aviv for over a month. But the senior IDF command could not answer my question. All this while the fighting was still raging on.
At the onset of the fighting, the Netanyahu government ordered – as usual – to bomb Gaza from the air. When that didn’t help and the rocket fire intensified, the government decided on a ground incursion. At the time, I was a member of the Foreign Relations and Security Council. I warned the Council of the Oslo Syndrome, from which Israel suffered in the Second Lebanon War. I warned that the same would happen with a ground incursion into Gaza. That is exactly what happened.
Without a clear strategic goal, the IDF soldiers entered the killing fields prepared by the Hamas. The battle zone included mazes of tunnels and booby-trapped building. Between the anvil of apologetic war ‘ethics’ – the ethics of conquerors in a foreign country – and the limits set on the intensity of Israeli fire so that the Hamas regime would not topple (which would force Israel to give up on the Oslo Concept and once again rule in Gaza) and the hammer of a beastly enemy expert at taking advantage of Israel’s moral weakness and lack of ability to win, our IDF soldiers were in an impossible situation. Israel’s bombing wreaked tremendous damage and suffering upon the civilian population in Gaza, but the Hamas regime was safe (thanks to Israel). Ultimately, just like in Lebanon, it was Israel that searched for a way to cease fire. When Hamas did not play along, Israel unilaterally stopped shooting.
By the end of the fighting, the price of Operation Defensive Shield, which was the result of the abduction and murder of the teens, which was the result of the Shalit terrorist release, who was abducted from the Gaza Strip that Israel abandoned in the Disengagement, which was the fruit of the Oslo Accords – was 73 fatalities (5 civilians) and 2,271 wounded (837 of them civilians). Of course, the rocket launches into Israel did not stop and more tunnels are being dug.
A new phenomenon in Operation Defensive Shield was the parallel uprising of many Arabs who enjoy Israeli citizenship. In previous wars, Arab citizens of Israel were careful to maintain a low profile. But the weakness that Israel displayed in Operation Defensive Shield inspired its Arab citizens – particularly the citizens of East Jerusalem – to revolt. On October 29, 2014, during an event at the Begin Center, an Arab resident of East Jerusalem shot and severely wounded Temple Mount activist Rabbi Yehudah Glick.
On November 18, 2014, two Arab murderers from East Jerusalem entered the Kehilat Bnai Torah synagogue in Jerusalem’s westernmost neighborhood and butchered 4 Jewish worshippers as they prayed, wounding many more.