Life for the residents of the southern Israel is impossible, intolerable, and unsustainable. They live in constant fear and suffering, and they’ve been living like this for years. That’s the problem. It’s not as if it’s been days, weeks, or months. It’s not as if we’re asking them to sit tight while the army removes the terror threat from above their heads. This request they could bear. No, we’re not asking them to sit tight for a few weeks while our soldiers fight their tormentors in Gaza. Instead, we’re asking them to sit tight with no end in sight. And there aren’t just a few thousand of these poor souls anymore, like there was just a few years ago. We’re talking about a million Israelis now. Continue reading
So what have we learned from this latest round of fighting so far?
1. While the Iron Dome anti-rocket system is a big hit in battle with the relatively small Islamic Jihad group [it has frustrated their plans and provided the Israeli government with time and space not to launch a heavier assault on Gaza], it won’t stand up to a massive and sustained rocket barrage from the much larger, much more heavily-armed Hamas. Like King David and King Saul, Islamic Jihad has thousands of rockets, and Hamas has tens of thousands of rockets. If the Iron Dome won’t stand up to a massive and sustained rocket barrage from the relatively small Hamas terrorist group, it definitely won’t stand up to a massive and sustained rocket barrage from the Hezbollah terrorist group. If the Iron Dome won’t stand up to a massive and sustained rocket barrage from the relatively small Hezbollah terrorist group, it definitely won’t stand up to a massive and sustained rocket barrage from the Syrian army. The Iron Dome is a smart, but limited tool, effective only in a limited conflict.
Once again, about a million Israelis are being held hostage in the country’s south by the terror groups in Gaza. In 2006 it was the north, and soon it may be the residents of the center. For now, the Palestinians in Gaza don’t even have to fire a single rocket today, and still tens of thousands of Israeli parents have kept their kids at home today and didn’t send them to school, for fear that a rocket might hit. So the kids stay at home. The teachers stay at home. Many parents stay at home because they can’t go to work if the kids are at home and many can’t afford babysitters. So their businesses suffer. The economy of the South suffers.
The education system suffers, and, by extension, our kids get a poorer education, and so their futures suffer. Who can count the potential cost to the country of this? This is strategic terror, this is the balance sheet of terror. By the way, many educational institutions in the South are still not properly reinforced against rockets. Oh, and when they are reinforced against Kassams, the Palestinians start firing Grad rockets. And once the schools are reinforced against Grads, the Palestinians will start firing Grads with heavier warheads, and so the equation goes.
The thicker our cement, the heavier they make their warheads. It’s impossible to reinforce every building in the country. We can’t afford it, and the Palestinians will just build heavier rockets. We’ve got to get out of this equation: it’s not cost-effective, and it’s demeaning. One Iron-Dome anti-rocket missile costs about $40,000. We shoot these at rockets that cost $1,000. So that’s not cost-effective too, and we can’t shoot down all of them, and we can’t carry on building Iron Dome batteries, at a cost of some $45million each. So this is not cost-effective either, as the Palestinians have tens of thousands of rockets they can fire at us, and so does the Hezbollah.
In the past few days, Israeli defense officials have been speaking in terms of cost: yes, it’s heartbreaking that an Israeli was killed, but the Islamic Jihad paid a heavy price, with 10 of its militants killed, said Ehud Barak. “They’re paying a much heavier price in Gaza,” says his deputy Matan Vilnai. Israel seems to need to change the equation regarding rocket violence: every rocket fired by a Palestinian group at Israel will cost them severely in terms of blood and damaged infrastructure. It’s not enough to chase rocket squads all day and all night [although this should obviously still be done]. Deterrence must be restored, and this can’t be done with defense, which costs a lot more than offense.
In a climate of serious defense budget cuts, expect the IDF to drop heavier bombs, and drop some heavier terror chiefs. Also, all talk of a major ground offensive to take down Hamas in Gaza is now passe. The new situation in Egypt won’t allow a too-aggressive Israeli action in Gaza [the new regime in Cairo is trying hard to be friends with the Muslim Brotherhood], and Israel definitely does not want to re-occupy the Gaza Strip and pay the daily wages of that occupation [in the absence of Hamas and UNRWA, Israel will have to fund everything from food to sewage in the Gaza Strip for the 1.3 million Palestinians there].
So where does this leave the Israeli government? My sense is it will not want to break the china in this, and next rounds of violence, but it will instruct the army to exact an ever-escalating price in blood for rocket attacks.
David Bouskila had a long and busy Friday night. The workload and
consultations started again very early on Saturday morning. So at about
11:30 a.m., when he finally found a few minutes to rest, he walked into his
bedroom and let his hefty body slump onto the mattress.
The second his head hit the pillow, IAF bombs hit their marks in nearby Gaza
City causing a thunderous sonic boom which shook Bouskila’s home. Sderot’s
new mayor knew it was not a good time to catch some sleep.
Credit: Sderot media center
Bouskila is speaking on his cell phone to the BBC when I catch up with him.
“We praise the IDF and the government for acting after having been under
rocket attack for over eight years,” he says. Speaking in good English all
the way through the interview, Bouskila spells out the letters of his name
to the BBC reporter on the other end of the line. Continue reading