Israel Is Not Really Trying to Fight Palestinian Missile Terror from Gaza

Question No. 1: Did Israel counteract Egypt’s permission to let Hamas’ $4million cash infusion from Iran and Saudi through to the Gaza Strip on Thursday, Nov. 16? The answer is no, even though Israeli intelligence knows about Hamas’ regularly smuggled moneys and their destination – not hospitals, schools or food, but guns, troops and, yes, missiles.
Has Israel called Egypt to account for failing to stop the extremist Palestinian groups smuggling of arms and cash past its border guards? No, again. One way would be to move Israeli forces one kilometer deep into the Philadelphi border route for every $100,000 reaching the Hamas war chest. After all, Egypt contracted to seal its border against terrorist traffic under an international accord brokered by the US secretary of state. But prime minister Ehud Olmert prefers to let Cairo off the hook. Thursday, Nov. 15, the day after a deadly Palestinian missile attack on Sderot, he again praised “Egypt’s role in blocking smuggling to Gaza.”
Have the seven Israeli cabinet ministers used their presence in Los Angeles for an intensive information campaign to expose to the American public the role the Europeans and Egyptians are playing in the availability of funds for Hamas hands, despite the freeze imposed by the Middle East Quartet? No again, although, like the Egyptians, the European monitors posted at the Rafah border crossing are instructed by their governments to turn a blind eye – not just to the suitcases stashed with dollars, but also to the Iranian and Syrian military instructors, the Hizballah agents and the al Qaeda operatives who make free of the Rafah crossing in and out of Sinai.
These entrants include bomb-makers and missile experts assigned to improving the precision, explosive power and range of the missiles fired day by day at Gaza’s Israeli neighbors – Sderot and Ashkelon.
Wednesday, a missile came close enough to the residence of Israeli defense minister Amir Peretz to seriously wound a sentinel as well as killing a mother of two and injuring five other civilians.
The day before the lethal barrage, Shin Bet director Yuval Diskin issued a wake-up call. He used a single graphic word to describe the Gaza situation: “Red, red, red!” in the hope of driving the urgency of an effective military operation to cut down the burgeoning Palestinian threat into the heads of national policy-makers before it was too late.
Diskin reported that 30 tons of explosives, arms and ammunition, enough to equip 10 brigades, have been smuggled into the Gaza Strip, and more is on the way. Hamas therefore commands an armed force which is one brigade larger than the 9 brigades available to the Galilee Division commander Brigadier Gal Hirsch as the backbone of the Israeli army fighting in the Lebanon War.
debkafile‘s military experts assert that Israel made no serious effort to keep the 30 tons of war materiel out of Gaza. Preventing the smuggled explosives from reaching the terrorist organizations’ missile workshops would have been a crucial step towards diminishing the missile threat against southwestern Israel.
Because Egypt is clearly a non-factor in this effort, debkafile‘s experts offer a number of practical alternatives:
1. General measures:
Israel must stop fooling itself about Palestinian intentions.
Israeli spokesmen and pundits have been tracing blow by blow the bumpy progress of the Palestinian talks on a unity government, which foreign minister Tzipi Livni went so far as to proclaim in Los Angeles a step towards moderating Hamas’ fundamental radicalism.
She evidently missed the Hamas spokesman’s statement that a new Palestinian unity government will neither recognize Israel nor accept a two-state solution.
In any case, the entire unity government exercise is a fraud.
The unknown microbiologist Dr. Mohammed Shabir was practically anointed by the media the next Palestinian prime minister, before his candidacy was knocked over by none other than PA chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, the live wire in the Palestinian unity government initiative. Informed Palestinians sources privately agree that a Hamas-Fatah coalition, though effectively flogged by the media as a device to unfreeze blocked Palestinian funds, is pie in the sky, like the purported Cairo-brokered talks for the release of the Israeli soldier Gideon Shalit who Hamas kidnapped last June.
They confirm that behind the hype, the rival Hamas and Fatah factions are nowhere near accord on basics.
With their minds clouded by illusions, false hopes and enemy propaganda, Israel’s policy-makers are hardly competent to get down to brass tacks on ways to halt the Palestinian missile offensive. They find it easier to say there is no solution – and leave it at that.
The only realistic note, aside from the Shin Bet director’s alert, was sounded by the newly-appointed deputy defense minister Dr. Ephraim Sneh. He was the first senior Laborite to admit that Israel erred in pulling out of the Gaza Strip in 2005 without leaving behind a stable, responsible Palestinian government. But Olmert, in the opposite vein, promised US President George W. Bush at the White House Monday, Nov. 13, that Israel would let 1,500 Palestinian members of the Jordanian Badr Brigade enter Gaza to bolster Abbas against Hamas.
Does Gaza need another 1,500 armed Palestinian fighting-men? Will they stop the Qassam missiles exploding on the Israeli side of the border? Or more likely be assimilated by Hamas and the Popular Committees and tempted join the missile crews by wads of smuggled Iranian petrodollars?
Jordan will be glad to get rid of any armed Palestinians – even if they end up with Hamas.
2. Military options:
debkafile‘s military experts say there is no need to reoccupy the entire Gaza Strip or Beit Hanoun, or use artillery to bombard civilian locations.
There are military options that could get around the Egyptian border police, who are useless for stemming the flow of arms and funds, and Israel’s reluctance to reestablish a military presence for sealing the Philadelphi route to smugglers.
One is the deployment of small commando units across the Egyptian border in northern Sinai. These units would pre-empt the smuggling by attacking the convoys of weapons and funds and blowing them up before they reach the Gaza border.
Our military experts are certain that Israeli intelligence agencies are fully apprised of the smugglers’ movements. Their hands are tied by prime minister Olmert’s instruction to do nothing except tip off the Egyptians and the Europeans, who then sit on their hands. Briefing the two foreign teams is not only pointless but counter-productive, because the Palestinian smugglers are then forewarned. This procedure needs to be stopped and Israel commandos sent for direct action against the illicit convoys.
The same tactic is applicable to the Gaza Strip.
Swarms of Israeli commando units should fill the areas from which the Qassam missiles are fired, including orchards. Ambushes at every corner will deter the missile crews and make them afraid of being liquidated on their way to launchings. This tactic was tried only once before in a location outside Beit Lahiya, next door to Beit Hanoun. It caused heavy casualties among the Palestinian gunmen and the Qassam teams gave this location a wide berth for some time.
It is evident that large-scale, complex Israeli operations like Autumn Clouds against Beit Hanoun earlier this month is costly in life while offering no recipe for curbing the missile attacks. But it is incumbent on the IDF to grasp the initiative at this stage of the war on terror and strike hard at the Palestinians’ fighting spirit. Since the Lebanon war, Palestinian terrorists have persuaded themselves that they are capable of continuing Hizballah’s successful war against Israel from Gaza. If this confidence is not shattered now, Palestinian missile attacks will continue to proliferate, gain in explosive force and spread to more Israeli cities. The most effective counter-terror tactic cannot mend in a single day the damage caused by Israel’s unilateral pullback from Gaza, but a beginning must be made without delay.

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