Israeli Government Stalls While Hamas Escalates
Vacillation or dithering was the original sin committed by the Olmert government in the Lebanon War and the primary cause of its inconclusive outcome, according to the panel set up to examine what went wrong.
The same deficiency dogs the government’s handling of Hamas in Gaza, despite prime minister Ehud Olmert’s pledge to correct his act. The belligerence of Hamas and its terrorist allies’ escalates unchallenged and the fundamentalist Palestinian rulers of Gaza go from strength to strength, while the dithering goes on.
Two weeks after Hamas blew up the wall dividing Gaza from Egyptian Sinai, Ehud Olmert, defense minister Ehud Barak, foreign minister Tzipi Livni, chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi, and their spokesmen, are still unwilling to get to grips with the terrorist peril which now extends to all of southern Israel.
Shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, they have decided a barrier along the border with Egypt is the answer, although it would take at least a year to build and would not be proof against Palestinian missiles against Eilat, for example. That measure, neglected for years, was looked at only after a pair of Palestinian bombers gave the Negev town of Dimona its first suicide attack Monday, Feb.4.
And now they are also telling Egypt to guarantee Israel’s border security, after the dismal failure to guarantee its own. The Israeli army is being held down to limited forays which do nothing to stop the flying missiles and rockets, any more than Olmert’s performance did in the Lebanon War.
Shortly before the Dimona attack, a “senior Israeli military officer” warned: “Some 200,000 Israelis in the towns of Kiryat Gat, Ofakim, Ashdod and Eilat are about to join Sderot and the Gaza Strip’s other neighbors as targets of the current Palestinian short-range offensive.”
He pointed out that whereas the first Qassam missiles were of 2 km range, Hamas and Jihad Islami have been allowed to acquire new weapons capable of striking at a distance of 18 kms.
His voice was lost in the clamor generated by Infrastructure minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer who said that in a future war Israel might face a 10,000-missile offensive. This figure was thrown out to justify Barak’s decision to stay on as defense minister and preserve the Olmert government by the need to prepare the nation and army for the war of the future.
The war of here and now is meanwhile going by the board.
Whether Olmert and Barak stay in power or make way for opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu is a petty irrelevance compared with the question of who will lead Israel and its army against a proactive enemy which presents the country with an existential peril in the present. Neither of the incumbents has so far come up to scratch.
debkafile‘s Middle East military sources maintain that the here and now are very much a part of the strategy developed by Iran and Syria for defeating – and if possible destroying -the Jewish state.
1. They have armed the Lebanese Hizballah and the Palestinian Hamas and Jhad Islami with an arsenal of short-range missiles for relentless cross-border attacks. These are to be combined with suicide bombing incursions through the wide-open Sinai border to Israeli urban centers, made possible by Hamas’ bulldozer tactics. The Negev town of Dimona suffered the first of these attacks Monday, Feb. 4, in which an Israeli woman was murdered and 43 injured. This is stage one.
Tuesday, Feb. 5, saw Sderot hit by 17 missiles. Three longer-range Grad rockets exploded in Ashkelon.
2. The second stage, consisting of medium-range missile attacks is impending, as the unnamed “senior military officer” warned. Syria, Hizballah and Hamas this week began transferring these weapons to Gaza past the ineffective Egyptian border police stationed in Sinai.
3. Iran and Syria are both armed with ballistic missiles for use in the third stage of their campaign
The short-range missile offensive is the opening shot of this three-stage war, along with suicide bombings and planned rapid-fire incursions to capture new territory inside Israel – both as strategic assets and as forward positions for extending their missile range deeper inside Israel.
Hamas’ first territorial gain was the capture of the Gaza Strip from the Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority seven months ago. This violent coup took place undisturbed by Israel or Egypt, although it placed the fundamentalist terrorists in control of a strategic enclave on both their borders.
Their second territorial gain was achieved in January-February 2008: Hamas, joined by the rest of the terrorist organizations – including the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades of Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah – smashed their way out of Gaza into northern Sinai and seized control of access to the Egyptian-Israeli border to the south. Neither Egyptian border police nor the Israeli army fired a shot to prevent their creation of a second, longer front against Israel snaking south from Gaza.
For the extremists’ third territorial gain, Iran, Syria, Hamas and the Jihad Islami plan to take over the West Bank and so place Israel’s heartland within the sights of their short-range missiles – unless the IDF moves to stop them.
Once the West Bank is gone, short-range missiles will be pointed at Israel’s civilian population from four directions – the Lebanese border, the Gaza Strip, Egyptian Sinai and the West Bank.
According to the Egyptian media, Cairo too stands in very real danger of losing control of the entire Sinai Peninsula, including President Hosni Mubarak’s winter residence at Sharm el-Sheikh, to Hamas and al Qaeda control. Fighting Hamas is a non-starter: It would place the Mubarak regime in danger of violent Islamist street riots in Egyptian cities.
Therefore, while Olmert, Barak, LIvni and Ashkenazi dither over a defense barrier on the Israel-Egyptian border and appeal to Cairo, Israel’s enemies are fully occupied with tightening a noose of short-range missiles around all of Israel’s land borders.