Israel Must Use Gaza Op to Destroy Hamas’s Rocket Capabilities

Netanyahu’s goal–destroying the network of cross-border tunnels Hamas has built to carry out attacks in Israel–is undeniably important. It was through such tunnel that Hamas kidnapped Gilad Shalit in 2006 and subsequently traded him for 1,027 vicious terrorists, some of whom have since resumed killing; Israel has good reason to seek to prevent a repeat. But destroying the tunnels will do nothing to prevent a repeat of the kind of rocket war Israel has already suffered three times in the nine years since its 2005 Gaza pullout, and it simply cant afford to keep having such wars every few years: While Iron Dome and extensive civil defense measures have kept Israeli casualties near zero, the economic costs are already nontrivial, and as David Rosenberg noted in Haaretz last week, one lucky hit on, say, Ben-Gurion Airport or Intel’s production facility could suffice to send the economy into a tailspin. Thus Israel must seize the opportunity to completely dismantle Hamas’s rocket capabilities–because for the first time since it quit Gaza, there’s a real chance Hamas won’t be able to rebuild them.

It’s impossible to stop Hamas from launching another war without dismantling its capabilities; recently history amply proves that deterrence doesn’t work. The significant damage Hamas suffered in both previous Gaza wars, in 2009 and 2012, didn’t stop it from launching new wars a few years later, and there’s no reason to think the current war–which has done it no more damage than the previous ones–will produce a different result.

Nor is there any way to destroy Hamas’s capabilities other than by a ground operation. Even according to the Israel Air Force’s possibly over-optimistic statistics, the intensive airstrikes of Operation Protective Edge’s first week destroyed fewer than 3,000 of Hamas’s estimated 9,000 rockets; most of the rest cant be destroyed by air, either because their location is unknown or because theyre stored in places likes schools and hospitals that can’t be bombed without massive civilian casualties. During that same week, Hamas fired about 1,000 rockets at Israel. Thus it has some 5,000 left, including hundreds capable of hitting Tel Aviv and beyond–more than enough for another war or three. And it can easily manufacture even more, since for the same reasons, Israel has bombed only about half its rocket production facilities. Eliminating its capabilities thus requires a search-and-destroy ground operation: capturing and interrogating terrorists to find out where arsenals and factories are located, searching facilities like hospitals that can’t be bombed, etc.

Clearly, such an operation wouldn’t be cost-free, and in previous years, Israel saw little point in paying the price, because Hamas could easily replenish its arsenal. But thats no longer true. The Egyptian government, with strong public support, has been systematically destroying Hamas’s cross-border smuggling tunnels into Sinai over the past year, having finally grasped that the two-way terror traffic through these tunnels threatens Egypt’s security at least as much as Israel’s. Thus as long as Israel refrains from a cease-fire deal that grants Hamas egregious concessions–i.e., as long as it resists international pressure to loosen its naval blockade of Gaza, ease its tight security checks on overland cargo to Gaza, and relax restrictions on dual-use imports like cement that Hamas has repeatedly diverted to build its terrorist infrastructure at the expense of civilian needs–Hamas will likely have difficulty rebuilding its capabilities.

In short, Israel now has a golden opportunity to destroy Hamas’s rocket capabilities once and for all. It would be folly to waste it.

0
Shares
Google+ Print

Israel Must Use Gaza Op to Destroy Hamas’s Rocket Capabilities

Must-Reads from Magazine

Fossil Fools

Fanaticism.

Over the weekend, the Democratic National Committee voted in favor of refusing all future donations from fossil-fuel companies. They’re so proud of the decision that it was only publicized on Tuesday, and then only by reporters who had to do some digging to learn the news.

9
Shares
Google+ Print

Canada Comes to Its Senses on Iran

Iran's isolation won't be reversed.

I have never been mistaken for a fan of Justin Trudeau, nor will I ever be so mistaken. On the whole, I agree with Ben Shapiro’s assessment of the Canadian prime minister (“Justin Trudeau is what would happen if the song ‘Imagine’ took human form…”). Trudeau’s commitment to full-spectrum progressivism, combined with his vanity and moral preening, make him one of the least serious figures ever to lead a major Western power. Even so, I found myself cheering Trudeau’s Liberal government on Wednesday after it backed a resolution in the House of Commons to “immediately cease any and all negotiations or discussions” with the Iranian regime.

22
Shares
Google+ Print

PODCAST: Un Singular Sensation

Podcast: How bad was it?

Was the Singapore Summit nothing, or bad, or the worst thing ever? This is the question we debate. We also examine the meaning of the primary defeat of Republican anti-Trumper Mark Sanford and what this portends for the GOP. Give a listen.

2
Shares
Google+ Print

Qatar and the Columbia Journalism Review

A conflict of interest.

Should Al Jazeera–the broadcast organ of Qatar’s pro-Muslim Brotherhood regime–be required to register as a foreign agent in the United States? Alexandra Ellerbeck and Avi Asher-Schapiro of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists think the answer is no, and they have a long essay in the Columbia Journalism Review laying out their case.

12
Shares
Google+ Print

Making a Monster Stronger

Gifts we cannot take back.

New York Times reporter Alex Burns seemed to approve of the “intellectual honesty” on display Monday night when Barack Obama’s former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, defended President Donald Trump’s diplomatic engagement with North Korea as hard-nosed realism. “We’ve had diplomatic relations with plenty of brutal dictators when it has seemed to suit our interests,” Burns recalled Clapper saying. Advocates of this approach to foreign affairs want to believe their Olympian posture amounts to the absence of undue judgment, but it’s more like the absence of critical thought. On that score, both Donald Trump and Barack Obama share many similarities. Kim Jong-un is not just one dictator among many, and the Democratic Republic of Korea is not just another country.

128
Shares
Google+ Print