The outcome of the Israeli threats against Gaza

MEMO | May 7, 2013

"the fast moving regional developments could prevent an Israeli military operation against Gaza"

“the fast moving regional developments could prevent an Israeli military operation against Gaza”

150 days after Israel’s last war on the Gaza Strip, security tension has resurfaced without warning. It comes amid preoccupation with pressing regional issues beginning with the enflamed Syria and Lebanon as it heads toward an eruption. Matters will not end with Iran, which will have to deal with the wreckage from the two countries. Following the recent launch of rockets on the coastal city of Eilat, Israel has responded with rocket-propelled grenades and threats against Hamas, warning them with the launch of a new war.

Reasons for the threats

Once the rockets were launched on Eilat, which borders three Arab countries: Egypt, Jordan and the Gaza Strip, Chief of Staff of the Israeli army, Benny Gantz warned that continued missile launches will force Tel Aviv to respond in different ways, and that it would not hesitate to carry out an operation similar to operation “Pillar of Defence”, indeed even more severe. Moreover, Amos Gilad, Chief of Political Security at the Defence Ministry, protested to Egypt for what he called a violation of the truce agreement, brokered by Egypt in November 2012.

Israeli military officials acknowledge that the army is facing difficulties in Gaza that stem not only from the weakness of the intelligence, but mainly from the absence of the ability to deter the armed groups. They do not have addresses or bases that can be threatened by targeting them. The Israelis regard the missile strikes on Eilat as a “sign of the time”; an unstable period when deterrence, warnings, and the balance of mutual interests are not as valid as they were in the past.

However, the majority of the Israeli threats and warnings to Gaza are due to the fact that the rockets launched at Eilat are considered a complex security challenge. They are for several reasons more problematic than the rockets launched at the Negev.

Eilat is a recreational city that attracts hundreds of thousands of Israelis and tourists from abroad every year. Firing rockets on it would cause tension and deal a deadly blow to its economy. And this is a problem not least because it is difficult to create a deterrent that will lead to an end of firing from Egyptian territory.

Thus, military officials have recommend deterring the armed groups by threatening them with a reprisal similar to that inflicted on Hamas during operation “Pillar of Defense.”

Recurrence of war

More than a week after the missiles were launched on Eilat the two security and military forces in Israel are still preoccupied with the incident. They fear that it was just the beginning of sustained attacks, especially since it was the seventh time in the past three years that the city was struck. Additionally, intelligence sources have that reported there were five or six international Jihad organizations operating in the Sinai and having links to groups in Gaza. They are all trying to carry out attacks against Israeli targets.

Therefore, the heightened turn of events on Gaza’s borders Strip has driven observers to predict the outbreak of a new confrontation with the Israeli army at any time. Indeed a number of Israeli generals have announced preparations for a new operation. They include equipping and improving the level of training of their soldiers and amending and renewing various plans that would enable their soldiers to be on the highest state of alert and ready to work in Gaza at a “stronger and harsher pace than before.”.

It must be noted that the conversations held by the generals behind closed doors were concerning their predictions, which indicate that the Israeli army’s deterrence abilities have weakened since operation “Pillar of Defence”. This coincided with attempts by Palestinian groups to carryout operations against the army. Meanwhile, Hamas is trying to control the situation, and to prevent a dangerous escalation in the region; even though it sometimes overlooks some of these activities.

Observers of the Israeli scene will notice the full extent of the constant threat and incitement against Gaza. They may be regarded as part of the “preparation” of public opinion for any confrontation that may erupt at any moment. They include calls on the army, more than ever, to initiate certain measures, before actually engaging in a new war. The most important of these measures are:

  1. Illustrating to Hamas in actions rather than words that the continuation of fire will cost them dearly.
  2. The continued fortification of settlements by establishing reinforced security rooms to create a sense of security among Israelis.
  3. The development of technological systems similar to the “Iron Dome” system.
  4. If all these measures do not work, another operation must be carried out in Gaza.

These threats, as well as the beating of war drums against Gaza, are due to the erosion of the cease-fire arrangements, and Hamas’ continued testing of Israel’s patience. The military is especially troubled by Hamas’ attempt to reduce the deterrence produced by the most recent war.

The eastern, northern, and southern border of Gaza have experienced more noticeable military activity than any time before; to the extent that it drives one to speculate that some sort of decision has been taken, or may be taken, in the near future concerning the coastal strip of Gaza.

What made such speculations even more likely were the intensified actions taken by the army, along with the field activities carried out by its combat units, as well as the experiments announced by the civil defence forces on the home front through early warning sirens. All this suggests that the Gaza Strip may be about to facing “swift” actions.

Furthermore, a clearer picture from the beating of war drums is reflected in the current operations being executed to open new corridors for armored vehicles. The aim, it seems, is to clear the area to prevent the resistance groups from planting bombs and explosives on roads used by the army and patrol units deployed along the border, and target them with explosive operations. Similarly, another aim is to allow the free movement of armored vehicles in the event that a military operation is ordered. The Israeli army says work in the area is ongoing because they are fighting a war of attrition and their work does not stop. That requires the army to remain constantly vigilant.

Meanwhile, the training base in the southern area has held drills in which members of the armored vehicles and aircraft units practiced coordination in case operations requiring airstrikes with the help of artillery and surveillance systems are ordered.

Although the atmosphere reeks with the smell of military escalation, statements by military officials, politicians and security experts in Israel indicate “inconsistencies in predictions and results.” Some believe that Hamas is not interested in raising military tensions and that the current situation in the region is calm. However, there are those that consider this calm to be in the interest of Hamas, which it is using to further enhance its military capabilities. They demand a harsh retaliation against Hamas and to hold it responsible for any deterioration in the southern region.

As long as the decision of a military strike in the Gaza Strip remains postponed, Israeli reports will remain at the level of speculation. The security agencies believe that Hamas is using the current calm to consolidate its rule over Gaza. Israel is clearly convinced that the movement has completed the process of drawing military lessons from the most recent confrontation; it has closed gaps, and fixed the points of weakness discovered during its conflict with the army.

The regional factor

Israel has informed Egypt that recent missiles launched at Eilat fromits territory has opened the possibility of it launching a military strike and intensifying its operations against Palestinian organizations in Gaza, rather than resorting to direct confrontation in the present stage.

These operations may include striking weapon storages facilities and means of money transferring, as well as increasing strikes on the Rafah tunnels which are used to transport arms into Gaza; despite the heightened monitoring by the Egyptians. Moreover, it may also expand what it calls “pre-emptive strikes” beyond Gaza, particularly to Sinai.

This likely scenario emerges in light of the concerns conveyed by Tel Aviv to Egypt. Israel is evidently concerned with what was happening on the Gaza borders and it has no intention to allow its security to be compromised; even if it led to launching a large-scale operation against Gaza as a result of the strike on Eilat. The accurate aim of the missiles indicates a high level of training acquired in all probability from outside of Gaza. This has disturbed the Israeli military officials, in addition to the fact that the Iron Dome system had failed to intercept these missiles.

The role of the regional factor is becoming increasingly important in Israel’s maneuvers toward Gaza. Tel Aviv believes there is an attempt by the armed forces in Gaza to test the strength of the Israeli army in the wake of the rapid developments in the Arab world, and the fall of the regimes that had secret and public relations with Israel.

Israeli leaks about the existence of a secret military plan to attack Gaza have caused huge controversy amongst the military elite due to fears of the Egyptian response. The fact that the army is preoccupied with its internal security situation, after giving it top priority, has afforded the Palestinian groups an opportunity to take advantage of the lack of security on the borders with Egypt. It has allowed them to bring in much advanced military equipment and devices that allow them to continue their operations. Thus the matter of striking Gaza has become a vital and necessary step for Israel’s security.

On its part, the Israeli media has explicitly pointed to Cairo’s anger over Tel Aviv’s suggestion to strike Gaza by refusing to comment. References were made to Israel’s fear that the military council in Egypt would retaliate firmly, politically or diplomatically, against Israel if it were to initiate an attack on Gaza.

However, security and intelligence agencies have held the current Israeli government accountable for not being able to deal with the security tension in the southern region. They criticize its hapless decision not to overthrow the Hamas authority a helpless decision, despite the perfect international conditions to do so.

Finally, the fast moving regional developments could prevent an Israeli military operation against Gaza. In the current circumstances such action could lead to a military collision with Egypt, either directly or indirectly, particularly if there is an unexpected reaction from Sinai. That may divert attention from what is happening in Syria and the stand-off with Iran. Israel would then be forced, in the circumstances, to absorb the military operations in such a manner that its response would be moderate, without achieving any deterrence of its continuation.

The author is a Palestinian writer. This article is a translation from the Arabic which appeared on Al Jazeera net, 2 May 2013

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Martyred By Israeli Occupation Attacks

انّا للہ و انّا الیه راجعون

May Allah Subhana wa Ta’ ala grant the Shuhada Jannatul Firdaus, and ease it for their families, loved ones and anyone around them. Allahumma Ameen ya Rabbil Alameen. ‘ Inna Lillahi wa ‘ Inna ‘ Ilayhi Raji’un, Allahu Akbar


* The list of shuhada does not display, the numerous victims of the zionist occupation which are undocumented by media. Nor it displays the victims of the “silent onslaught” due to restrictions of movement, ability to go to hospitals for treatment or life saving surgery, due to lack of medication because of the blockades and so on. For example: The Slow Motion Genocide by the Siege on Gaza only, killed 600 patients since Gaza got under Israeli Siege.

For an overview of All Israeli Massacres Palestinians go here

Neither does this list, display the avoidable mortality. A clear and statistical factual evidence, about the number of deaths due to indecent ruling by occupation forces. For even an occupier has obligations under International Laws, Geneva Convention and the Hague regulations, which it is neglecting. These circumstances, together with deliberate policies of the occupier to neglect and even deny every basic human right, severes avoidable mortality which is totally silenced by media or reporting organisations. While in the Holocaust, 1 on 6 Jewish people directly died of deliberate neglect, so if we believe the facts over 1 million due to avoidable mortality, neither should these same circumstances be ignores which are ongoing in Palestine. For this report displays a avoidable morality of at least 0,5 million Palestinians.

How many more dead corpses of Palestinians does the international community need to see in order to act? How many more cruelties and violations of Human Rights, Regulations and International Law will be needed to intervene so this ongoing warcrime is being stopped once and for all.

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