Every time Hamas or some other extremist Palestinian organization (or actually, any hostile Arab entity) begins to show signs of exhaustion, or indicates to Israel that it would like a lull, the Israel Defense Forces begins singing a refrain similar to the one that Haim Goury wrote for the Gashash Hahiver troupe: "Just one more minute, Mom / Just one short moment / You always ruin things when we're almost there."
What did we ask for, after all? Just another five minutes - really, just a second - and the enemy would truly have been broken; just one more battle, or one more flanking maneuver from the north of Bint Jbail, and Hezbollah would have been smashed into tiny bits; one more campaign in a refugee camp in the West Bank or Gaza, one more targeted assassination of a senior operative, and everything would have looked different: The back of Islamic extremism would have been broken; the extremist organizations and the countries in the Axis of Evil would have lowered their tails, expressed regret about their evil ways and changed their policies. In short, "a victory would have been achieved" and the enemy would have surrendered unconditionally. Particularly meticulous officers would add here, "and the government would have been given room for diplomatic action."
This permanent entreaty, known in popular slang as "Let the IDF win," is actually more similar to banging one's fist on the table, if only because Israel has never embarked on any campaign or fought any war with a clear-cut and defined political goal up its sleeve. Most of the time, it is a nervous defensive reflex, an angry campaign of revenge or a desire to teach the Arabs a pedagogical lesson - ideas pulled from among the IDF's "contingency plans" or its "target banks."
Since the army has the sole copyright over almost all these initiatives, it also has the last word with regard to both their length and their success. Indeed, an Israeli leader would have to be made of stone to withstand this "just one more minute" when the IDF is itching to "finish off the job" and there is a temptation to "hit the jackpot" before the casino closes.
This temptation, however, has lost some of its power over the past few years, in view of the situation around the Gaza Strip and following the intifadas and the wars in Lebanon. But one trick is left that has never let anyone down, one operational candy whose taste still remains sweet - or in any event, whose quintessential failure in the long run has not yet been proven: the "policy of targeted assassinations."
One should not disparage the importance of revealing this Achilles' heel of the enemy - the revelation that the heads of the terror organizations who send thousands to their deaths begin to shake in their boots and draw conclusions when their own lives are threatened. We will also ignore for the moment the fact that the sole Israeli deterrent today that has (so far) proven effective was not achieved through strategic sophistication, with intercontinental ballistic missiles, or through lofty doctrines of warfare, but rather in a brutal and desperate manner, just like in a Tarantino movie about criminal gangs: simply by putting a revolver to the foreheads of Ismail Haniyeh and two or three of his flock.
This is the regional superpower's current deterrent weapon, and this is also the main field of action in which we are asked each time anew to wait "just one more minute" with the hudnas and shmudnas (as a senior officer was quoted as saying this week): Why should we stop? After all, they have almost reached the breaking point; why should we spoil things when "we are almost there?"
Granted, we have in our hands a means that has not yet proven ineffective and has not yet even had an immediate boomerang effect, such as we are used to; thus it is no surprise that we have fallen in love with it and wish to use it more and more. The trouble is that it is an exhaustible weapon (how many candidates for assassination still remain?), and moreover, how and when will we know that we have won a victory when we do not have a clue what we wished to achieve to start with? How will the "downfall" of the enemy manifest itself? In recognizing Zionism? In mass conversion to Judaism? In a simple and pathetic cease-fire of a decade or two?
When the answer is not even clear to ourselves, we should not be surprised that this "just one more minute" has already been going on for 60 years.
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