Israel must make it clear: The era of surgical strikes is over

Israel must make it clear: The era of surgical strikes is over


Beyond the heavy cost in lives, the surprise offensive by Hamas has dealt a severe blow to Israel’s image and deterrence. A comparison can be made to the damage inflicted by Al-Qaid on the United States in the September 11 terror attacks in which almost 3,000 people were killed.

The attack carried out by Hamas has also fractured the trust of Israel’s citizens in the defense establishment. That is one of the goals of terrorism. The time for hard questions, debriefings, and drawing conclusions will come, but right now we need to devote all our attention and efforts to the battle against Hamas and to give our unreserved support to the commanders and soldiers, who, as they struggle to digest what has happened, will need to march bravely into battle and to determine the outcome. They face many and complex challenges. The dimension of time does not have an equal effect on everyone, and therefore operations against them should be prioritized and operations should be conducted in a cool and calculated manner.

First, Israel needs to clear out any Hamas terrorists still left inside Israel (an analytical reconstruction of the information and images we possess should be conducted to check the numbers and make sure no terrorists are left). At the same time, we need to re-establish control of the entire length of the border, formulate a complete and reliable picture of the missing and those held hostage, and prepare for the possibility that additional Iranian proxies will join the fighting. We can assume that Hamas will attack Israel not just from the West Bank but from Lebanon and other arenas.

The political echelon should instruct the IDF to immediately create a 300-meter wide (900-foot) security zone on the Gazan side running the length of the border and declare that any Palestinian that enters this zone is placing his life at risk. The rules of engagement should be changed to reflect this. Supervision of this security zone and the use of lethal fire can be conducted from the air and will not necessarily require a physical military presence.
With regard to the operation in Gaza, according to the statement put out by the Prime Minister’s Office, the aim of the operational decisions taken is to bring about the destruction of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s military and political power in a way that will negate their ability and desire to threaten and harm the citizens of Israel for many years to come. Without getting into complex analyses, the first goal Israel must achieve in the Gaza campaign is to reduce the harm caused to its deterrence by exacting a very high price from Hamas. Unfortunately, in our neighborhood, the price is determined primarily by the extent of casualties.

The current circumstances not only justify but necessitate a departure from the policy of surgical strikes. While they provide precision and show Israel’s special capabilities, they require long protracted, and complex preparations and in any event cannot constitute a sufficient price tag for the severe attack carried out by Hamas.

In place of this policy, Israel should warn the civilian population in the Gaza Strip that Israel’s intentions are to launch a massive assault following the expiry of the ultimatum. Israel should destroy everything connected to Hamas: the homes of Hamas operatives, government offices, and offices belonging to the organization, institutions, banks, vehicles, generators, boats, warehouses, and workshops. The practice of “knock on the roof” (dropping low-yield devices to warn of an imminent full-scale bombing) should be suspended as it slows down the pace of operations, and the liaison office with Gaza should be closed. Israel should see itself as freed from any responsibility for the economy of the Gaza Strip and the welfare of its residents. All border crossings with Israel should be shut down, including the fuel and goods crossing and Kerem Shalom, the electricity supply should be reduced to a minimum and the strip’s internet and communications should be disrupted.

At the present time, Israel should refrain from dialogue with Egypt, which could be seen by Hamas as “putting an end to the event.” Moreover, Israel should impose a complete closure on the Palestinians in the West Bank, prevent the possibility of copycat terrorist operations there, and focus military operations on Gaza

It is also the right time to examine proposals to change the conditions of incarceration of security prisoners in Israel. The scale of the attack by Hamas provides legitimacy for Israel to take extraordinary measures. It would be wrong to operate with a timer running in the background or fearful of how the United States and the international community will react.

The important plans concerning Saudi Arabia should not be a restraining factor when it comes to Gaza. The Saudi street won’t react positively to Israel’s operations, but they too will respect a powerful response to such a barbarian assault.

Published in  Israel Hayom, October 8, 2023.

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