Some Tentative Achievements Israel Scored with Pillar of Defense
There is room for doubt regarding the "ceasefire" that has been announced in Israel's effort to eradicate the Hamas terrorist infrastructure. Israel may well have been better-served to have continued doing what it was doing, and the depiction of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as peacemakers, while murderers dance in the streets of Gaza, is no cause for joy. On the other hand, an Israeli ground incursion would have added peril for many of her boys, and we have no right sitting in America to criticize Israel for choosing not to imperil her boys. Furthermore, the question -- whose honest answer we never will know -- is: "What were Israel's military objectives in this battle?"
If the objective was to put Hamas out of business once and for all, then this operation was a failure for Israel. Likewise, if the goal was to make it impossible for Hamas to continuing to launch rockets into Southern Israel, then this operation would seem to have been pointless. Hamas will continue shooting rockets into Sderot. They still are doing so, albeit sporadically, even at the time of this writing. However, if Israel had other objectives, under a smokescreen of putting Hamas out of business, then Israel may have achieved its goals effectively. To wit:
Israel may have succeeded in completely knocking out all long-range Fajr-5 missiles, capable of reaching Tel Aviv, that Hamas had smuggled in from Iran these past few years. This would reduce the number of Israelis subject to missile fire from 3.5 million people to under 1 million. It also would protect the nation's most vital infrastructure from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.
Israel may have succeeded completely in testing the effectiveness of her Iron Dome defensive batteries in actual wartime conditions for the purpose of upgrading perceived flaws, thereby better understanding how to protect cities in her south like Ashkelon and Ashdod and points north to Jerusalem. In addition, Israel may have used this real-time combat testing to influence and augment how she further develops the "Chetz" ("Arrow") and "David's Sling" defense systems she now is refining and constructing to defend against middle-range and long-range rockets. These systems parallel the Iron Dome's efforts aimed at defending against shorter-range rockets.
Israel may have succeeded completely, in advance of a possible future attack against Iranian nuclear capabilities, in testing theories that (i) for all its bluster, Egypt will not join a military conflagration that could result in military disaster for Egypt and thereby in an outraged and humiliated Egyptian Army leadership conducting a coup to seize political control from the Muslim Brotherhood civilian leadership that supplanted them; and (ii) for all its bluster, Hezb'allah may not be poised presently to attack Israel.
Israel may have succeeded completely in sending a message to Iran that Israel is capable of striking and ready to strike at Iran's nuclear facilities if necessary, and -- at least for the next two years -- Iran no longer can rely on Hamas and Egypt on Israel's western front to step up with sufficient support in a military conflict with Iran that would divert Israeli air power and defenses from focusing on Iran.
Israel may have cut a deal secretly with Clinton and Obama that includes our country now gaining access to strategic military lessons learned by Israel from this conflagration, and Israel gaining significant new funding towards (i) placing several more Iron Dome batteries into operation to blanket Israel's skies more thoroughly, (ii) enhancing the research and development of "Chetz" and "David's Sling," and possibly (iii) offsetting some or much of Israel's costs in prosecuting this eight-day "weed-cutting" operation, including the $50,000 that each Iron Dome surface-to-air interceptor missile costs.
By striking swiftly at some 1,500 pre-planned strategic targets and avoiding a subsequent extended ground incursion, thereby limiting Gaza "civilian" casualties and achieving some valuable goals before the anti-Israel lobby could gather political steam, Israel may have deterred certain European Union countries from voting in the United Nations at this time in favor of upgrading "Palestinian" status in the U.N. There may have been a secret quid-pro-quo to the effect that Israel cease fire and the EU stand down. Maybe. What is certain is that, for the first time in decades, Israel has prosecuted a major weed-cutting operation before the political left could mount an international counter-propaganda effort aimed at delegitimizing Israel's right to protect her citizens and national existence from murderers. Hamas are based among a population that freely elected these murderers to lead them and be their surrogates, while stockpiling weapons and stationing rockets and launchers in hospitals, mosques, school buildings and playgrounds, and residential apartment buildings. Despite the left's knee-jerk tradition of siding with terrorists and murderers against civilized societies that fight back to protect themselves from annihilation, Israel eviscerated hundreds of strategic targets before the left could mobilize its haters to act.
The Netanyahu government may have succeeded completely in sending a message to those within Israel, and outside, who want to see Israel accept a "Two-State Solution" that would see an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria (the so-called "West Bank") that would parallel Israel's prior withdrawals from Gaza and southern Lebanon. The eight-day Operation Pillar of Defense has demonstrated that any Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria will transform Tel Aviv and Jerusalem forevermore from exciting Western cities and repositories of culture and civilization to the equivalent of targets in a shooting arcade. Thus, this operation may have proven that old political slogans and equations no longer make any sense, and that it no longer is conceivable for Israel to withdraw from post-1967 Judea and Samaria -- even as it is unfathomable and utterly impracticable to uproot 350,000 Jews and more from their homes.
So maybe, in the final analysis, this was a successful, purposeful operation for Israel.
Dov Fischer, a legal affairs consultant and adjunct professor of the law of civil procedure and advanced torts, is rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County. He was formerly chief articles editor of UCLA Law Review and writes extensively on political, cultural, and religious issues. He is author of two books and blogs at www.rabbidov.com.