Thursday, March 28, 2019

Another cease-fire round - Amnon Lord

by Amnon Lord

Netanyahu has managed the latest escalation well; even hawkish pundits agree he has hit Hamas harder than before. His immediate goal is to keep the pressure on Hamas so the planned Friday riots are contained.

One can agree or disagree with how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's has handled the latest escalation in Gaza but one cannot deny the fact that he is head and shoulders above all the other self-proclaimed leaders, who seem to all be competing over who is more dangerous and weird.

There is Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, the candidate who keeps blaming Netanyahu for trying to kill him and keeps repeating the same set of words over and over again.

There is also former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who keeps leveling harsh accusations against Netanyahu. First he said that Netanyahu fired three bullets at the Declaration of Independence and now he calls him a traitor.

Then there is Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who insists on getting the keys to the Defense Ministry today.

There are countless others I didn't mention, but Netanyahu has managed to set himself apart as a decisive leader who is willing to hit Gaza harder than before and also make unpopular decisions.

Security-related events usually help the Right in election campaigns. But this time around, unlike the past 20 years, the Left has tried to deny the Right this advantage by casting former generals as leading candidates.

But one thing must be clear – at some point, Israel will have to head into the missile depot known as the Gaza Strip and take care of it.

As former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told me earlier this week: Hamas will have the same capabilities as Hezbollah within two years. Such a scenario is intolerable.

The Palestinians assumed Netanyahu would shy away from a major confrontation in Gaza because of the upcoming election, but his heavy bombardments over the past two days suggest that they may have been wrong.

Even hawkish pundits agree that Netanyahu countered Monday's rocket attack on Israel with an appropriately forceful response. Israel under Netanyahu has tried to be a rational actor that acts in an orderly, yet not necessarily expected, fashion.

Israel is now like a tactical unit that has to deal with a protracted hostage crisis: You don't want to cause unnecessary casualties, you want to things cooled down, but at some point, you have to decide whether to storm in and rescue the captives.

The Palestinians plan major demonstrations this weekend both in the Gaza Strip and in Judea and Samaria.

The best thing Israel can do is to make sure the latest escalation continues just a bit longer so that it won't have to deal with the eruption of renewed riots.

Politically speaking, Netanyahu has also benefited from the latest crisis: The slanderous accusations on his alleged corruption have been forgotten and now he is looked to as a leader.

Amnon Lord


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