The war in the south has introduced a new, illusive item to the conventional statistics of casualties and fatalities. The technological wonder Iron Dome has become, justly, the hero of the hour. The cause for the war has become marginal and the central index for success or failure is now the number of missiles the Israel Defense Forces intercepts.
But was it really necessary, after a long period of calm, to embroil Israel in a war that paralyzes the lives of a million civilians? Is the assassination of the Popular Resistance Committees' secretary general worth the disruption the state is undergoing? Worth the economic damage, the halt of studies and, especially, the danger of plunging into a military ground operation in Gaza?
On the face of it, the chronology is in Israel's favor. The defense minister's version is: "This round began with killing Zuhair al-Qaissi, one of the Popular Committees' leaders, who were apparently involved with preparing a large-scale attack. I cannot say yet whether this attack has been thwarted."
If indeed we're dealing with a "ticking bomb," there's no argument it had to be defused. But Ehud Barak is not sure this is the case, and it is not clear if the attack itself has been thwarted. In this situation, one may well ask whether all the consequences of killing al-Qaissi had been taken into account. Even more critical, wasn't the killing an excuse for a much wider offensive - in view of the chief of staff's statement from a few weeks back, that Israel will ultimately have to carry out a wide-scale attack in Gaza?
The people living in the south have understood, as they are always forced "to understand," the implications of the war against terror in Gaza. Now it is the decision makers' turn to understand that Iron Dome is not a substitute for policy making or, better yet, freedom from making policies.
The war in the south must end immediately. It will not defeat terror nor reduce the Gaza threat. The notion that a wide-scale operation, like Cast Lead, will create a long-term change is also an illusion.
The solution is elsewhere, around the negotiation table, from which the government is seeking refuge under Iron Dome.
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