Israeli Security Assessments Are Reality Built on a Lie

In 2008, about half-a-million Gazans surprised the Egyptians when they broke through the fences and went into Sinai. What will the Israeli inventor-warrior do if that happens?

IDF forces working to uncover tunnels leading from the Gaza Strip into Israel, on April 18, 2016.
Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Were I a resident of one of the communities near the Gaza Strip border, I wouldn’t be able to sleep – having discovered once again that the government has lied to me.

Now it’s selling me sensor technology that can detect tunnels and has placed an Iron Dome over my head. But that’s not what it promised me.

The government explained that Operation Defensive Edge would rid Hamas of the least desire to make war against me. That Gaza had suffered so many casualties and so much damage that there was no way, it was just inconceivable, that Hamas would want to tunnel underneath me.

And here we have it – even after the spectacular discovery of the tunnel and our amazement at the wondrous instrument, our stomachs continue to churn. Once again, the IDF brass is reciting the same assessments as before Operation Pillar of Defense, before Operation Defensive Edge, before the Second Lebanon War and before the lone-wolf intifada.

The learned assessments, backed up by thorough intelligence, that the enemy is beaten, depressed, lacking ability and motivation. The fact is, they say, it has been a year-and-a-half since Operation Defensive Edge in Gaza and the border is quiet (except for a few rockets); it has been a decade since the Second Lebanon War and no third war against Lebanon is on the horizon, and the lone-wolf intifada is subsiding.

These are not lies, but it is a reality built on a lie and held up by the scaffolding of delusion. Once they promised us that if we only took out the Hamas leadership, life would be wonderful, as if terror lives is independent, cut off from reality. As if the first, second and third intifadas are fringe theater. That the Palestinians are happy with their lot, and if only we destroy Ahmed Yassin, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, and Yahya Ayyash, terror will disappear.

This deceit was already exposed in the second intifada. Then the assassination of Ahmed Jabari in 2012 produced Operation Pillar of Defense, after which promises were made, practically commitments, that Hamas was finished.

But the strikes, targeted or all-out, did not help. Operation Defensive Edge, that wild war of revenge against 1.8 million Gaza civilians after the abduction of three teenage Israeli boys in 2014, turned the entire Gaza population into an “infrastructure” to be destroyed. Less than two years later, the lone-wolf intifada surprised us, because of that same conceptual lie.

Life in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is wonderful, we’re meant to believe, and the shopping malls and bars of Ramallah fulfill the national inspirations of the Palestinians, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has no alternative except to obey. And then came the street kids with their knives and scissors, their makeshift guns and explosives, unraveling the tapestry of lies.

Now Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is presenting the greatest achievement of the high-tech country as the weapon of tomorrow against terror: A tunnel detector against a population under siege. Together with Iron Dome, this wonder is the security kit of Israel’s citizens.

But at the western end of the tunnel is a hole, in which some two million frustrated people are crowded, unemployed, poor, with health and education services light years from what is accepted at the eastern end of the tunnel. Entire generations of people without a future.

Amazingly, they are still submissive, the fear of the electric fence that surrounds them still hangs over them. But what Iron Dome or what tunnel detection system can stop them, if one day a few tens of thousands, or maybe a few hundreds of thousands, decide to climb the fences, or hold a hunger strike next to it, like the Syrian refugees, who really have nothing more to lose.

In 2008, about half-a-million Gazans surprised the Egyptians when they broke through the fences and went into Sinai. What will the Israeli inventor-warrior do then? Direct the Israel Defense Forces to fire on them? Fire Iron Dome missiles right at them? If I lived in the communities near the Gaza Strip, this would be my main cause of concern.