Another Cast Lead?

11.02.12

War And Elections

"'Rockets will fall in Tel Aviv during the next war, and you will be in the battle field,' Paratroopers Brigade commander Col. Aharon Haliva said last week as he spoke to reservists at Elyakim base." This comment reflects the hawkish view in the Israeli army that contends that, sooner of later (mostly sooner), Israel will have to conduct another Cast Lead-type operation in Gaza, but this time the end game will be bringing down the Hamas government. Those in the military with a bit more understanding of the political and sociological reality in Gaza and in the Arab world understand that Israeli force cannot crush movements like Hamas. It is possible, militarily, to bring about a regime change in Gaza, but the regime that will replace Hamas will be the Israeli occupation and not some Palestinian stooge cadre of self-appointed leaders.

The cost of another Cast Lead to Israel internationally, politically and economically is much too high for any serious leader to consider at this time. Col. Haliva’s scare tactics are not enough to gander enough public support to force the decision makers to wage war without a real credible military threat from the other side. Over the past few years Hamas has maintained a policy of adhering to calm and ceasefire when there are no attacks from Israel. The repeated cycles of rocket fire from Gaza to Israel have always started with a pre-emptive Israeli attack which kills people in Gaza. The Israeli claim is that they are preventing terrorist and rocket attacks from Gaza. This may be completely true but since the public is not privy to the raw intelligence information which leads to the decision to attack, we can either believe the IDF spokesperson or not, and almost all Israelis chose to believe.

Some credible analyst think that Hamas is now emboldened both through the power gained by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the flow of nearly $500 million from Qatar to rebuild Gaza. Feeling the power behind them, these analysts suggest that Hamas now may have an interest to continue to shoot rockets at Israel—keep Israel on its toes, so to speak, and keep nearly one million Israelis in shelters every evening. The military wing of Hamas is continuing to arm itself with more sophisticated weapons, no doubt. But at the same time senior Hamas leaders see that now is the time to build, to invest in infrastructure, to provide water and electricity, to give the people of Gaza a chance. It has nothing to do with thoughts of peace with Israel. One senior Hamas leader told a foreign diplomat just this week that Hamas wanted to establish a five year hudna (ceasefire) with Israel. One Israeli official I spoke to today about this said, “Why so short?” Another one said, “Why so long?” I say, everyday without rocket fire and without people getting killed is a good day, and God knows we need more good days in the Middle East.

On the eve of elections in the U.S. and then afterwards in Israe,l it is very unlikely that the Israeli government of Netanyahu will launch a war in Gaza, in Lebanon or in Iran.  In Netanyahu’s seven years in office as Prime Minister, he did not bring Israel into any war. To remind readers, Ehud Olmert, the man who negotiated peace with the Palestinians and with Syria led Israel into two wars, in Lebanon and in Gaza.

Sometimes waging war is good for gaining votes, George W. Bush probably won his second term because of American soldiers in harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan. The current political and economic situation of Israel and the entAire world today, election season 2012 does not offer incentive or even fantasy that aggression will bring votes.