As We Redeploy
The second phase of the Israel Defense Force's "Operation Protective Edge" is complete.
But make no mistake, this was Hamas's well-planned, well-financed, well-thought-out war. This was Hamas' offensive, painstakingly put together for years, and intended to provide Hamas with a game changing "Divine Victory."
It was to have been a Jihadi Pearl Harbor, a terrorist version of Shock and Awe. It was to have been a sneak attack by means of terrorist tunnels dug beneath Israel's border, aimed at murdering, maiming, and drugging hundreds of innocent Israeli civilians; men , women and especially children and capturing them, dragging them back into underground prison cells in Gaza and holding them, and Israel as a whole, hostage.
It would have been one of the most spectacularly brutal terrorist attacks in history. The Mumbai Massacre would have been child's play by comparison. And it was all planned, not in the name of " Resistance" or to improve the lot of the Palestinian people, who have indeed suffered under the yoke of Hamas, rather it was to be launched to solve Hamas's internal political problems. Hamas, through a combination of greed and mismanagement was unable to pay forty thousand of their own bureaucrats and soldiers and risked being toppled from within.
On the other hand newer, and/ or more radical groups like ISIS , Al Qaeda and Islamic Jihad were threatening to topple Hamas because they claimed it was not militant enough.
The answer was what some have come to call " The Tunnel War".
This was Hamas's secret weapon, the jewel in the crown of its terrorist arsenal.
Israel's Iron Dome and amazing civil defense system, coupled together with a courageous and disciplined home front, had limited Israel's casualties during the first eight days of the war, to one civilian killed. And that poor, but caring man had been killed by a mortar round, not a rocket, while doing the good deed of handing out food and sweets to soldiers at the front. Because Israel's front is not Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea, or Bosnia. Israel's front is never more than a bus ride away.
But Hamas was unconcerned that their thousand rocket attack had completely failed to cower or shut down the Israeli home front. They had a secret weapon. They had spent five years and a virtual fortune, which both their Qatari and Iranian backers happily gave them. They also suckered the West and Israel into donating and allowing into Gaza the cement and steel which they demanded with feigned righteous indignation, saying it was needed to ease the suffering of the poor Palestinian people whose schools, hospitals, homes and mosques had been destroyed by a ruthless Zionist, genocidal enemy.
That was the sales pitch and the world, and Israel, bought it, hook, line and sinker.
Hamas used the steel and cement, instead, to build a vast network of terrorist attack tunnels. And they hid the entrances to these tunnels in their mosques and homes, and their rockets in their schools and hospitals!
And it failed.
That's not to say they won't stop trying.
That's not to say they won't succeed, one day, in pulling off a terrorist attack, murdering Israeli civilians and labeling that The Divine Victory they are so desperately seeking as a means of justifying the utter misery they have brought down on the Palestinian people of Gaza, whose champions they claim to be.
(Never mind the fact that each and every one of the 1400 Palestinian deaths there have been since they rejected the first cease fire, proposed and endorsed by their own Arab and Palestinian brothers, could absolutely have been prevented. Each dead baby they so cynically parade before the media would still be alive, had Hamas only agreed to the cease-fire, which Israel unconditionally and immediately accepted. )
But that was not Hamas's plan. They wanted more pictures of dead babies, in order to claim the mantle of victimhood, which would justify their tunnel terrorism against Israel.
And they failed.
Israel has foiled half a dozen terrorist tunnel attacks. It launched a ground offensive to deal with the terrorist tunnel threat, and in two weeks discovered and destroyed thirty-one terrorist tunnels. The minute the Chief of Staff reported to the government that all the tunnels it knew of, and those it had discovered during the course of the operation, were destroyed, one phase of this campaign ended, and another began.
Israel entered Gaza with limited and well-defined objectives. Those objectives having been met, Israeli forces are redeploying.
Some will remain in Gaza, continuing to degrade Hamas's offensive capabilities. Others will redeploy outside of Gaza to form a new defensive perimeter.
According to some knowledgeable commentators, reported in the international press, Israel may now enter a kind of mini-war of attrition, during which time Hamas can be counted on to try to carry out another Divine Victory terrorist attack against Israeli civilians, and the IDF will devote all its resources to foiling those attempts -- as we have successfully done throughout this operation.
They will fire rockets. Iron Dome will shoot them down. They will continue to terrorize our civilians, and our civilians will continue to live their lives with an unbreakable joy particular to Israelis.
For Israel, unfortunately, there has been no war to end all wars with all those who have sought to destroy us. Rather, as Major General ( Res) Doron Almog recently told me, what we strive for is a kind of cumulative effect with those who seek our annihilation.
From 1948 to 1973 we fought five wars with various combinations of Egypt, Syria and Jordan. The cumulative effect of all those wars was that Egypt and Jordan entered into formal peace treaties with us that have insured tranquility on those borders for forty years.
While Syria never entered into a formal peace agreement with Israel, up until the recent civil war in Syria, that border too, has been quiet for forty years.
From the late sixties until 2002 we faced a prolonged terrorist war with the PLO, which found it's initial expression in the airline hijackings of the '70's.
Israel found the answer to that and today the most secure airline in the world is El Al.
After two intifadas, the first Lebanon War and Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, the cumulative effect has been that the PLO under Mahmoud Abbas has largely abandoned terrorism against Israel, in favor of an international delegitimization campaign and demonstrations, which, though many turn violent, pale in comparison to the suicide bombings of the turn of the 21st century.
General Almog's point was that since the days of David Ben Gurion, Israel has always known there are no wars to end all wars. That much sought-for day will only come when all our neighbors accept our right to live in this tiny piece of land which is the cradle of our language , our religion, our national ethos, our heart and our soul, and which for two thousand years we never abandoned.
Each generation has been called upon to pay the blood tax, to fight, neither for empire, nor caliphate nor visions of virgins in paradise.
Each generation has had to fight for the same dream expressed in our national anthem, Hatikvah, "The Hope."
"... to be a free people in our own land. The land of Zion and Jerusalem."
And each generation answers that call with courage and dedication. And it is not only each generation of soldiers.
We have a home front which takes in total strangers because we are in uniform. They feed us, kick their children out of their beds so we can catch a few hours sleep, offer us their showers, wash our uniforms, laugh and some times cry with us. And most of all they bathe us in the warm light a family's love for a son or daughter, come home from the front.
Because the truth is, we are all their sons and daughters, and everyone in this loud, warm, loving, argumentative, holy and hedonist, rainbow colored country of white, brown, black, golden, gorgeous Jews, whom the Almighty has gathered according to His Word, from the four corners of the earth, and from the ashes of Holocaust, and the exile of two millennia, all of us, are one, life-affirming, loving, joyous-in-spite-of-everything, extraordinary, unbelievably beautiful family.
I have an adopted cousin who was a member of one of Israel's most elite commando units; as heavyweight a warrior as exists anywhere in the word today. He once told me, "…you know what the difference us…between our soldiers...and the Hamas and Hezbollah guys is? They sing songs about blood and death and war. Our soldiers…our fighters...our warriors, sing songs about peace."
So in that spirit, as I, in the next two days, take off my uniform and combat boots, and redeploy into civilian life, let me share with you the lyrics to one of my favorite songs.
The words don't really express it.
Google it and listen to the sweet, sad, hopeful melody, as you read these words sung by soldiers who sing about the end of wars, instead of their glory.
It's called " Hen Efshar - Yes, it's Possible." It was first sung by my foster father's generation in 1948, by my generation in '67 and '73.
The soldiers of today's "Tunnel War" on the dusty roads leading out of Gaza, are singing it still.
"Thru the falling leaves, Autumn already blows
The dust on the roads slowly fall still
And the day burns only towards you
And dreams of a distant meeting
Yes, it 's possible, that another evening will come
And the gate will creak to itself quietly
And your eyes will be so good
As if there was no war in the world at all
Yes, it's possible, yes, it's possible,
Yes, it's possible, in the jeep that just passed by,
Boys roared that it's over!
Yes, it's possible
That it will happen. It's just going to be tomorrow.
Yes, it's possible, that your sad room
Waits in the paleness of its walls
And calls the two of us to return
From battles, dirt roads and from autumn
Yes, it's possible that suddenly we will meet
At a vantage point, or on a dirt road
Yes, it's possible, even amongst smoke and fire
To dream that
it's all, already over
Yes, it's possible, yes, it's possible
That it will happen .
It's just going to be
Dan Gordon is a Captain in the IDF (Res)