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November 17, 2019 11:14 am

As Gaza Ceasefire Wobbles, a Full-Scale Israeli Military Incursion Remains on the Table

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Israeli soldiers at a staging area in Southern Israel, near the border with neighboring Palestinian Gaza Strip on November 13, 2019. Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90 – The ceasefire put into place on Thursday morning between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror organization stood on shaky ground as terrorists violated it and launched a number of rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israel throughout the day, with Jerusalem refraining from responding.

Skeptical Israelis see no end to the rocket fire, even if a temporary halt is reached. Some see an Israeli military ground incursion into Gaza as the only solution to finally wipe out the military capabilities of PIJ and Hamas, which would ultimately eliminate the terror threat that exists today against millions of innocent Israeli civilians.

Udi Dekel, managing director of the Institute for National Security Studies, told JNS he believes that “there is no good format to solve Gaza” and since, at the moment, Israel does not have a government that can make the hard decisions, “it is better to manage the situation” than to launch a major operation in Gaza.

However, some advocate going in—if not now, then at least eventually.

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Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister Avi Dichter recently told reporters that “Israel’s political and military leadership need to decide at a certain point to launch a campaign that will destroy the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza.”

According to Dekel, the understanding in the political and security establishment is that “in any case, we need to launch a big operation against Hamas and PIJ in order to dismantle their military capabilities.”

He emphasized that the intention would not necessarily be to destroy Hamas—as there is no other political address in Gaza—since the Palestinian Authority doesn’t want to assume control of its 2 million residents.

With those terror organizations capable of launching rockets, UAVs and other weapons, “we have to change that reality,” said Dekel.

He specifically listed two ways to attempt to do so. The first is to come to an agreement, such as a long-term ceasefire, with Hamas and, at the same time, engage in the reconstruction of Gaza.

The second way to change the current situation, according to Dekel, is to commence a massive military operation in Gaza—not to stay there, but to eliminate, once and for all, any terror threat emanating from the region.

However, Dekel admitted that such an operation “would result in casualties on both sides.”

His advice? “It is better to postpone it.”

He said that the Israel Defense Forces worked hard in the current round of fighting to end this event “as soon as possible” in order to avoid escalating the situation.

“After forming a new government,” he said, “perhaps the interest in Israel will change.”

Dekel said the only way to achieve a long-term ceasefire “is if, at the same time, a major reconstruction project takes place in Gaza.”

The focus must be on providing water, electricity, job opportunities in Israel or Gaza, and to improve the daily lives of people there, he put forth, and for that to happen, “you need some kind of coalition. We need to create some kind of mechanism where others will participate in big projects in Gaza.”

‘There will be another round’

IDF Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate’s research division and director general of Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry, told JNS that by attacking Israel with a barrage of missiles, “PIJ wants to demonstrate that targeted killings come at a high price.”

Kuperwasser noted that this is the first time that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not blaming Hamas.

“He is saying to Hamas ‘I understand you cannot control PIJ. We still consider you the responsible party, but we understand you had a problem you couldn’t solve. Either we hit you, or we help you control the situation by removing those groups you cannot handle.’ ”

“It is like a yellow card to Hamas,” he quipped.

He explained that it is as if Israel is saying to Hamas, “We gave you opportunities [to prevent attacks on Israel] with Abu Al-Ata and now, without him. If you don’t prove yourselves and you can’t control the use of terror against us from Gaza, then we don’t need you.”

“And that will be the end for Hamas,” he said. “Either Israel will engage in pinpoint strikes, or it will take over Gaza.”

“When the dust settles,” said Kuperwasser, “the test will be whether Hamas can control the Gaza Strip so that we can move towards some understanding to obtain quiet.”

“There will be another round,” he warned. “Hamas, just like PIJ, is a terror organization committed to destroying Israel. We have to go back to the drawing board.”

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