From Israel’s standpoint, the Gaza war is a convergence of the “perfect storm” — the right conditions by which to start the journey towards a final, unavoidable confrontation with Iran. Pressing these conditions to its advantage, Israel must continue the fight in Gaza until a critical objective is achieved. Unlike the 2006 conflict in Lebanon, Israel lacks the luxury this time of settling for a tie. Time, quite simply, is not on its side.
As Israel has come to understand during a 60-year lifespan, while cherishing peace, its survival depends on preparing for war. It temporarily lost sight of this in the 2006 war when, engaged in conflicts with terrorist proxies of a terrorist state on two borders, it settled for a draw. What started then as a localized conflict with Hamas militants quickly turned to a regional conflict as Hezbollah initiated a surprise attack on the Israeli/Lebanese border. Israeli air strikes led to Hezbollah rocket attacks which, in turn, led to an Israeli ground offensive to push Hezbollah back from its border.
After 34 days, Israeli objectives still not achieved, it accepted a U.N. brokered peace deal. But, it is clear Hezbollah and Hamas aggression came only at the encouragement of the same terrorist state arming and financing them to undertake it — Iran.
Israeli military and civilian leaders performed poorly in the 2006 conflict. An internal investigation identified numerous failures which Israel then worked diligently to address. As a result, it is a different Israeli army fielded than in 2006.
The war that started last month in Gaza — though not planned by Israel — was one it knew was coming and would provide Israel the opportunity to achieve a definite objective.
Certain conditions had to converge. First, Israel could not start the conflict. When Hamas refused to extend the six month truce which had maintained relative calm in the region and instead initiated a daily barrage of rocket attacks against Israeli towns, the first condition was ripe. But, again, Israel chose restraint, warning if such attacks continued, it would take decisive action. Another condition converged as Hamas relentlessly continued the attacks.
A final condition had to exist — and about this Israel had no doubt. It required Iran show no restraint in curtailing its nuclear weapons program despite pressures from the international community. Had Iran shown some restraint, Israel would not have launched its current ground offensive for fear Tehran might re-start its program. But, absent any restraint, Israel knew in any renewed conflict with either of Iran’s terrorist proxies, that it had to achieve a single purpose: it had to inflict maximum destruction upon either the Hamas or Hezbollah legs of the Islamist Triad to prepare for the ultimate confrontation with the Iranian leg.
This is imperative, as Israel realizes it alone will be left to accomplish militarily that which the international community will have failed to do diplomatically — termination of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. As Tehran edges closer to achieving this goal, Israel understands better than any international community member why Iran must be stopped. Time is of the essence, as some intelligence estimates suggest Iran may have its first nuclear weapon later this year.
Those who choose to attack Israel always suffer disproportionate losses. A democratic state, surrounded by undemocratic ones unwilling to recognize its existence while threatened by a theocratic state seeking its elimination, is driven to survive. Factor in a citizenry well aware of the historic consequences of practicing Judaism and, for these reasons, Israel will always give greater to its enemies than it gets. Even Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad realizes this, which is why he seeks a nuclear, vic conventional, solution to wipe Israel off the map.
Such losses will always be disproportionate, too, as Israel places value on human life. Everything is done to protect Israel’s own citizens in wartime; its enemies, lacking such value equivalency for the lives of their own followers, purposefully transform them into military targets, to turn public opinion against Israel as such losses mount. Hamas’ recent military use of a U.N. school, confirmed by Palestiniansthere, repeats a past practice — evident from aerial surveillance video clearly demonstrating this tactic. Similarly, prior to the hostilities of the 2006 war, Hezbollah militarized private homes in Lebanon by constructing additions onto them hiding rocket launchers for later use against Israel.
Yet, ironically, when such terrorists fall wounded on the battlefield, Israelis treat them as equals, even triaging them for medical treatment ahead of others if their wounds so warrant. Jews value all human life; Islamists only value the lives of fellow believers — and, specifically, only male believers.
While an international chorus calls for Israel to agree to a ceasefire, it must be understood such a ceasefire is only possible if a vital link fueling hostilities is cut.
As thousands of Egyptians demonstrate against their government for not doing enough to stop Israel, they fail to see how their government’s actions facilitated the current crisis. Egyptian forces responsible for preventing weapons smuggling into Gaza have, for bribes amounting to millions of dollars, turned a blind eye to a steady flow of Iranian arms under the Egyptian/Gaza border. If this Iran/Gaza arms link is not cut in Egypt, the fighting will continue. And the only way Israel will agree to a ceasefire is not by an Egyptian or Hamas guarantee, but a U.N. guarantee a reliable international force will cut it. Right now, Israel has destroyed much of the Hamas arms inventory; but that means nothing if the Iranian arms link remains intact. Those who want a ceasefire in Gaza have to be willing to guarantee the next peace there will not be a fleeting one. As Israeli security expert Arik Arad suggests, “Put such a guarantee in force today — and we leave Gaza the same day.”
Israel is now clearly at a crossroads in its confrontation with those in Tehran seeking to do it the most immediate harm. Israel fully understands the challenges of a full confrontation with the Islamist Triad to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Israel knows everything possible has to be done during this current conflict to minimize any contribution Hamas can make to the Triad’s effort in the near future. Therefore, do not bank on a ceasefire in Gaza until that is achieved — for Israel now knows the road to its fate in the unavoidable confrontation with Iran runs “under” Gaza.