Let Israel Fight Back

Let Israel Fight Back
By P. David Hornik
FrontPageMagazine.com | November 2, 2006

Israel’s leading daily Yediot Aharonot reported this week (translated on Yediot’s English site) that so far this year 202 Israelis have been rushed to hospital for injuries suffered in attacks of Qassam rockets fired from Gaza. The total for all of 2005 was 87. Israel’s disengagement from
Gaza having occurred in August 2005, the math is easy: the disengagement led to a sharp increase in violence against Israeli citizens in the area.

Gaza is the Sinai. Although the simple Qassams are home-manufactured, they carry explosives that are shipped into
Gaza from Sinai in massive quantities along with other munitions like Katyusha rockets, rifles, bullets, antitank and anti-aircraft missiles. That phenomenon, too, has risen sharply since the disengagement. Like Gaza in 2005, the Sinai was evacuated by
Israel, with all military personnel removed and civilian settlements dismantled, in 1979-1982.


Whereas the Sinai withdrawal was by bilateral agreement with Egypt and is ritually cited as “proving” that Arab-Israeli peace agreements can work, the Gaza withdrawal was more or less unilateral and was seen by some as a clever solution to the problem of having no negotiating partner but needing to leave a place where
Israel’s presence was supposedly untenable. The upshot is that bilaterally evacuated Sinai and unilaterally evacuated
Gaza now form a continuous zone of aggression that destabilizes the region and increases the risks of an Israeli-Egyptian or larger confrontation.


When one adds to this the increased risk and destabilization—now clear to all after the summer 2006 war—caused by Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, the conclusion is that Israel’s current problem of encirclement by terrorist forces backed by state actors like Iran, Syria, and Egypt is a direct result of its land concessions. Although Israel also paid dearly for transferring parts of the West Bank to the PLO in the 1990s, at this moment Israeli security forces have returned to intensive activity in the
West Bank and are containing the threat.


The situation also increases the risk of an eventual Iranian nuclear attack on Israel—by increasing the already-great risks for Israel of attacking
Iran before it is too late. A situation where an Israeli air strike on Iran could be met by possibly catastrophic retaliation by the well-entrenched terrorist forces surrounding Israel complicates
Israel’s prospects.


Back in 1975, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger told Iraqi foreign minister Saddun Hammadi: “We can’t negotiate about the existence of
Israel, but we can reduce its size to historical proportions…. So I think in ten to fifteen years, Israel will be like
Lebanon—struggling for existence, with no influence in the Arab world.” Roughly double Kissinger’s fifteen years, and his words emerge as roughly prophetic.


It was in the 1970s that the American push to gradually feed
Israel’s 1967 land acquisitions to the Arabs got under way. By 2006, land ceded by Israel—a pro-Western, intensely pro-American, perhaps-still-powerful democracy—is now infiltrated or ruled by forces hardly friendly to America like Al Qaeda (Sinai, Gaza), Hamas (Gaza), and Hizbullah (Lebanon, Gaza), not to mention all these and more in the simmering West Bank. The Arab and Muslim state backers of these organizations have been encouraged to believe that aggression against Israel pays and that
Israel’s destruction remains feasible. The net loss in terms of peace and stabilization is for Israel, the
United States, and the West generally.


Is it too late to repair the damage? With Syria and Iran continuing to arm Hizbullah in Lebanon and with Hizbullah now shielded by an enhanced UNIFIL force,
Israel now faces greater obstacles than previously in trying to deal with the threat to its north. Israel has, however, been acting against arms-smuggling tunnels on the Sinai-Gaza border and against terrorist forces within Gaza, amid calls from senior political and military figures for a reconquest of at least parts of Gaza before it becomes another


The Bush administration could at least passively support Israel in pushing back the Gaza-Sinai-Egypt threat instead of eventually stopping Israel as it did in summer 2006 in
Lebanon. The lack of an active Israeli military presence in Gaza means not only that Israeli civilians get shelled but also that Hamas, Hizbullah, Al Qaeda, Egypt, and the overall jihad advance toward Israel and conflagration. To keep refusing to realize this is to disengage from rationality.


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