The Israeli government's policy toward Gaza is fundamentally flawed. For some reason, it has not internalized the dramatic change in the status of the Gaza Strip since the August 2005 disengagement and the June 2007 Hamas military putsch and takeover of the territory. When I read that the government is consulting with the Israel Defense Forces' International Law Division about whether it is permissible to cut off electricity to Gaza - that is, to a hostile entity that has declared war on Israel - I don't know whether to laugh or cry. This could well serve as another example of the exaggerated role of the judiciary, which is taking over our lives and threatening to paralyze the ability of the government's branches to operate.
The basic solution to the Qassam plague is not to conquer Gaza. Neither does it lie in inventing brilliant technologies. The last thing the IDF needs is to turn into a police force controlling a million and a half Gazans. For every missile there is an anti-missile; and for every anti-missile, an anti-anti-missile will be invented. From the dawn of history, a defense has been found for every innovation in attack techniques, and a breach has been found in every defense. The answer for the Qassams is, and has always been, the proven and familiar response for countering any aggressive intent - that is, deterrence and a crushing response "in kind." This is the only response that has proven itself over the years."
Syria does not launch missiles against Israel - not because Bashar Assad is a disciple of Aaron, but because he fears Israel's response. Hassan Nasrallah does not use the thousands of missiles in Hezbollah's arsenal - not because he has pangs of conscience, but because he fears a similar response to the one he encountered last year, when he was compelled to apologize to his fellow countrymen and explain that he would not have abducted the two IDF soldiers had he known that Israel's response would be so severe. Today, there is no need to differentiate between Syria and Gaza, or between Hezbollah and Hamas.
The argument that Israel is prohibited from striking against civilian targets or assets in Gaza as a response to the wild aggression unleashed against it is a baseless fabrication. No country acts in this manner - not during World War II, not prior to it and not subsequent to it. Throughout the Cold War, the West's doctrine consisted of -mutually assured destruction' and this premise saved the free world from the brutal Soviet regime. President Kennedy threatened that if even one missile were fired from Cuba against any target in the Western hemisphere, the U.S. would strike at the Soviet Union with all the power at its disposal. And the intention was not to hit Soviet military bases, but cities like Moscow, Stalingrad and Leningrad. In the Kosovo war, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) not the U.S. alone, but NATO, including the hypocritical countries in Western Europe attacked all of Serbia's civilian infrastructure for weeks, bombing embassies and killing hundreds of civilians, until Slobodan Milosevic was forced to surrender.
Israel is entitled not only to cut off Gaza's electricity, but also to hit every power plant in Gaza because the electricity is used to operate the lathes that produce the Qassam rockets. Israel is entitled to destroy all the bridges and roads in Gaza because they are used to transport the Qassams that are launched against Israeli citizens. And Israel is entitled to strike against the institutions and facilities of the Hamas government that stands behind the launching of Qassams. This is how any normal country would behave and this is how the State of Israel should also act until Khaled Meshal apologizes to the Palestinians and explains that he would not have allowed Islamic Jihad to launch Qassams at Sderot or Zikim if he had known that Israel would respond in this manner.
The writer is a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
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