Sunday, July 13, 2014

Target every Last Terrorist

by Zvika Fogel

One thousand airstrikes in three days. Nearly 1,000 tons of explosives have been dropped on various parts of the Gaza Strip, major weapon mills, caches and posts have been destroyed, hundreds of hidden rocket launchers have been rendered useless, and dozens of Hamas terrorists, including several senior operatives, have either been killed or put out of action. But while these all serve as proof of the Israeli Air Force's capabilities, they are not a breaking point, let alone a decision point, for Hamas.

The circumstances of the war into which we have been forced have given the Israeli government the unique, perhaps even one-off, opportunity to deal Hamas a decisive blow. Hamas is more vulnerable and far less ready for confrontation than it once was -- just as since 2012's Operation Pillar of Defense, Hamas has mostly been focused on trying to survive rather than bolstering its capabilities. 

Israeli security forces' actions, as well as Egyptian efforts to thwart Hamas' smuggling attempts over the past 18 months, have forced Hamas to reallocate monetary and human resources to improve its "manual" munitions assembly line, which is far less effective than having standard weapons. 

Moreover, Hamas' inability to pay government employee wages, due to Israeli sanctions, has, in my opinion, greatly undermined its operatives' motivation. After all, even a terrorist's family needs to buy groceries. 

We seem to be scaring ourselves much more than the enemy is trying to scare us. The aerial strikes on Gaza are the precise time to engage in a ground incursion. The threat of fire from above, compounded by ground forces' maneuvers, will make the enemy feel hunted and force it into the open. 

The subterranean cities dug under the Gaza Strip since 2008's Operation Cast Lead were primarily meant to allow the undetected movement of wanted individuals, as well as to facilitate rocket fire at Israel, but they do not allow for underground fighting.

You cannot run a war with a clock over your head. War has objectives that must be achieved, and only their full realization can dictate its end. War is not measured in terms of costs, but only by the values of sacrifice, devotion to the mission, and the love of one's country. That is why the Israeli government must order the IDF to target every last terrorist -- from Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh to the very last man digging a tunnel.

When it comes to a terror state, you do not differentiate between the political echelon and the military one. They all seek to destroy us and therefore they all share the same fate.

Brig. Gen. (ret.) Zvika Fogel is a former chief of staff of the IDF Southern Command.


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