What’s next for Israel’s operation in Gaza?

Read few comments.

Ahron BregmanDepartment of War Studies, Kings College London

The Israeli objective is to stop the current shelling of Israel from the Gaza Strip and to restore deterrence, in other words to create a situation whereby no more missiles land on Israel and the gap between the current crisis and the next one is as long as possible. It is clear to the Israelis that such shelling will happen again in the future but they want the Palestinians to have such a bloody nose that they will be careful before starting the next one.

The Israelis prefer not to invade Gaza with ground forces as it will result in casualties. And anyway, the aim is no longer to topple Hamas because, as bad as it is in Israeli eyes, it is better than the potential alternatives that will replace it if Israel destroys it.

Israel wants the current crisis to end as quickly as possible as it detracts from what the Israelis consider to be more important, namely diplomatic negotiations to stop Iran from getting closer to the nuclear bomb.

So far Hamas is doing quite well in reaching Israel’s centres of populations with their missiles and drawing world attention to their suffering in the besieged Gaza Strip. At the same time, the Israelis lack good intelligence, can’t bomb the stocks of Palestinian missiles which are well hidden and as a result have to drop their tons of ammunitions on empty houses. With no element of surprise (as in previous Israeli operations against Hamas) the Hamas leaders are well underground from where they conduct their war against Israel.

Jonathan SchanzerVice President of Research, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

The Israelis are primarily hunting for the long range rockets — like the Iranian made Fajr 5, locally made M75, and Syrian made M302. All of these rockets can reach deep into Israel.

In addition, the Israelis are targeting senior Hamas operatives, Hamas military infrastructure and even short-range rockets when the opportunities arise.

The Israelis did not wish for this war. Netanyahu tried hard to stay out of it. But rockets targeting Jerusalem, the Tel Aviv airport and even the suspected nuclear site in Dimona have forced the Israeli prime minister to view Hamas as a strategic threat that requires an Israeli response.

Chuck FreilichSenior Fellow, International Security Program, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University

The situation with Gaza is intolerable, no country can allow its citizens to be repeatedly hit by terrorists on its borders – and this time almost all of Israel’s in range. Unfortunately, I do not believe that Israel can achieve a fundamental change in the situation. To do that would require reoccupying the Gaza Strip, staying there for 6-12 months to root out Hamas completely, something that no one in Israel is even thinking about doing and then what would happen after Israel withdrew? The only remaining players, after Hamas was out, would be the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Al Qaeda types, a very unattractive outcome. In these circumstances, I think Israel should limit its objectives to three – hitting Hamas hard to downgrade its rocket capabilities, thereby restoring deterrence which will lead to a further period of quiet, for another year or so, and achieve various arrangements which will inhibit (but unfortunately not prevent) Hamas from rearming. That is probably the best that can be hoped for.


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