Dan Ehrlich

Bad Planning, Messy War- Don’t Repeat Mistake

If you look back at the war’s progress, one critical observation is made: Void of pre and post victory plan, keeping PM Netanyahu in power is the only short-term certainty. The longer it continues the longer he stays, looking for an elusive big win. And this is what many Israelis and non Israelis openly say.

As I stated in a previous April 12 blog the Government maintaining the last bastion of Hamas was in Rafah, was a gross overstatement and miscalculation with Hamas survivors doubling back to the north giving the IDF more ‘tsuris’ in a possible an endless war.


On October 8, the Israel Defense Force began its large scale military operation attacking Gaza from north to south, driving the population and Hamas terrorists towards Rafah. At that point Rafah’s population was one fifth of what it became as the war progressed.

At that point is when the IDF should have begun to clean out Rafah of Hamas members while maintaining a defense line across the city’s entrances, vetting those Palestinians coming in and going out.

Israel didn’t do that and the city’s population exploded with refugees and Hamas terrorists from North Gaza leaving the IDF with a military and public relations fiasco on its hands.

All this and more has the Israeli War Cabinet becoming unhinged with two moderate members claiming they may quit and help bring down the Netanyahu Government, which for many would be ‘naches’ for the country.

On the other hand, it could also leave the government totally in the hands of the ‘meshegas’ extremists who want to rebuild settlements in Gaza, settlements whose abandonment in 2005 is one of the main reasons why there’s a war now.

When Israel gave the Gaza Strip to the nascent Palestine Authority in 2005 it did so in good faith hoping it would become part of the elusive two state solution. But one can only guess when Hamas took over Gaza from the PA, Bibi Netanyahu realized it was a golden opportunity to keep the West Bank and Gaza disunited, permanently preventing an indy Palestinian state.

But Bibi never imagined his largesse towards Hamas would result in massacre of Israelis and a full scale war.

That being the case, what should happen for now and in the future? Israel is committed to defeating Hamas and it should do so. But can it really ‘KO’ Hamas? The only way to really destroy it is to starve it for new members. And that may not happen for quite some time.

Netanyahu more than likely will have to settle for a ‘TKO’ with Israel declaring a victory, while continuing its battle with Hamas as a police action rather than a full scale IDF campaign.

As for Gaza’s future, it’s almost laughable to take seriously the Hamas demand to be a part of the post-war Gaza government.

It’s equally absurd to think that Israel should twice make the same mistake, that of leaving Gaza to the unruly masses. In the short term Israel must maintain a military and administrative presence there. Yet, Bibi has yet to submit a plan.

Centrist war cabinet member Benny Gantz has given Bibi three weeks to come up with a workable plan for Gaza or else he will quit the cabinet.

His plan includes the return of hostages, ending Hamas’ rule, demilitarizing the Gaza Strip and establishing an international administration of civilian affairs with American, European, Arab and Palestinian cooperation. His plan also supports normalizing relations with Saudi Arabia and widening military service to all Israelis.

The trouble with this is it’s a rational plan for an irrational people. Depending on international peace keeping forces to keep militants from arming and attacking areas under their protection has been shown ineffective in places as far flung from Lebanon to Bosnia. Too often UN peacekeepers have turned a blind eye to terrorist activities.

In the longer term, Gaza may have one of two futures, part of a Palestinian state or being incorporated as part of Israel.

I prefer the latter. Nations divided by a land border don’t work in the long term. Gaza should be part of Israel with the Arab residents there offered Israeli citizenship. Those rejecting the offer should be given the choice of moving to the West Bank or any Arab nation that will have them.

As for the West Bank, the only practical solution is a union with Jordan, which has a majority Palestinian population and several times the land area of Israel. Jordan, a nation at peace with Israel, could offer stability and security to the West Bankers.

Israeli settlements there are is a more complex matter that would have to be resolved in the long term.

Yet, before there is any resolution of the so-called two state solution, the UN, which has no trouble heavy handing Israel, must demand that all Arab states hosting Palestinian populations, finally offer these people citizenship in those nations. The term refugee should no longer be applied to Palestinian Arabs born in other Arab countries.

About the Author
A London based American journalist with a long wide ranging career spanning print, radio TV and online news.
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