September 24, 2005

Israel Raises the Pot In Gaza

Hatched by Dafydd

According to the Associated Press, Israel has responded to Hamas's rocket attack from northern Gaza by calling up thousands of troops, deploying them to the border, launching air strikes on Hamas bomb-making factories, and vowing a "crushing" response still forthcoming.

"We have to make it clear to the Palestinians that Israel will not let the recent events pass without a response," Mofaz said in a statement, referring to the Hamas rocket fire. "The response needs to be crushing."

The overnight rocket barrage by Hamas was the first since Israel pulled out of Gaza nearly two weeks ago. Israel has said it will show "zero tolerance" for attacks after the withdrawal.

Mofaz decided to deploy troops on Israel's border with Gaza after meeting his security chiefs, an official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the meeting. Thousands of soldiers received call-up notices, and their leaves were canceled.

This is precisely the response that would have been impossible prior to the pullout: it was politically repugnant, even within Israel, to launch air strikes on a territory that Israel occupied. But now that they have withdrawn, and the Palestinian Authority is officially alien territory -- and now that there are no Jewish settlers in Gaza to serve as potential hostages -- Israel has begun to respond to the attacks they way they would to any other "nation" attacking them. The gloves are off.

I discussed how the pullout would change the military calculation several times: here, here, and here. But now we see it playing out.

Israel has, of course, used attacks from the air before:

Mofaz also said Israel might resume targeted killings of Palestinian militants. During more than four years of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, scores of militants were killed in targeted attacks, most by missiles fired from Israeli aircraft.

But they have generally shied away from actual aerial bombing of territories they were currently occupying: for example, in the wildly exaggerated "massacre" in Jenin, the Israelis deliberately eschewed aerial bombing in favor of more dangerous house-to-house searches, precisely in order to avoid the moral and political opprobrium that would come from bombing territory they were occupying and killing civilians legally under their protection.

We'll see over the next few weeks whether Israel has truly turned a corner in their response to Palestinian terrorism, or whether Ariel Sharon is all yarmulke and no goats.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 24, 2005, at the time of 5:49 AM

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The following hissed in response by: Husker Mike

I think they should have done this a long time ago.

They should decide what part of the West Bank they need for security. Then, they should give the rest to the Palestinians (with Gaza, but keeping Jerusalem.)

Then, everytime the Palestinians attack, declare to the U.N. that they are being invaded by Palestine, launch huge bombing raids against Palestine (killing 5,000-50,000 people), and asking the U.N. to broker a truce in this new war. After 3-4 wars in the first 3-12 months, the Palestinians will turn on Hamas and we will finally have peace.

The above hissed in response by: Husker Mike [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 24, 2005 12:33 PM

The following hissed in response by: THANOS

i could have guessed this was going to happen, since the Egyptians allowed the Palis to bring all those weapons across the border as soon as the Israelies had moved out...did anyone think they Palis were going to just sit on all those weapons and save them ???...they meant to use them as soon as they could unload them and get them close enough to the border with Israeli and fire them off....Israeli now should crush the Palis as quick and ruthlessly as possible...the Palis were given there best chance at real peace and what did they do with it???...and any and all liberal/leftists should keep quiet, the Israelies have the right to attack them Palis this time...there is NO question at all on this...the Palis want to play games???..well the Israelies should give them a free should also turn out to be the last if the US would stop holding the Israelies back

The above hissed in response by: THANOS [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 24, 2005 3:47 PM

The following hissed in response by: Blank:No One

I agree with your perspective on the new calculus on the ground. In fact, I agreed even before you wrote it, but I don't blog, so I can't prove it. Suffice it to say that great minds think alike.

However, I think you are missing the next interesting question to ask. OK, so Israel will treat Gaza as a foreign country and deal with it as such. That Hamas controls Gaza and will do the stupid stuff that they very predictably do is a given. Now, Israel will react just as they would if any other foreign country did it. So the next question, how will the rest of the Arab countries react? If Israel and Syria were exchanging artillery fire, you can bet that several other nearby countries, such as Egypt and Jordan (peace treaties not withstanding) would at least be mobilizing if not fighting. How will Egypt and Syria react when Israel militarily fights with Hamas in Gaza?

My prediction is that Egypt and Jordan do their best to sit it out. But Syria will try very hard to make hay with it. Assad will try to raise his position within the Arab world to the 'true representative' as a Pan Arab rather than 'just Syrian' leader. He will try to use it to divert his domestic troubles externally. And he may even be partially successful at it. Boy Assad will be the one neighbor 'confronting' Israel, which is worth some street cred on the over rated Arab Street.

That may be in Israel's best interest, but I think it may complicate our interest in shaking the foundations of every Arab country by creating a modern Arab society based on rights rather than dictatorship. Our prime target #1 just got handed a shield and the conspiracy theorist will seem ever so slightly less kooky when they say we are confronting Syria on behalf of the 'JOOOOOOOS!'

The above hissed in response by: Blank:No One [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 25, 2005 8:56 AM

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