Steve Kramer

Israel must win on the battlefield

On August 19 Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu said, “In the stormy Middle East, one needs a combination of strength and patience. The IDF has considerable strength and the Eternal People has proven that it does not fear a long road. It could yet take time and one must be patient and determined. The combination of persistence and strength will assist us in achieving the goal of this operation — quiet and security for all Israelis.”

At the same venue, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said, “Operation Protective Edge is not over. As we promised, we will not stop until we bring quiet and security. We are prepared for the results of the discussions in Cairo, whether it brings quiet or if someone tries to challenge us with escalation. The IDF is prepared and ready to respond strongly to any development. Hamas will not drag us into a war of attrition and, if it tries, it will be struck very hard.” (

The trouble is, we Israelis aren’t sure that our leaders are following the correct strategy to defeat Hamas. In fact, it’s far from certain that defeating Hamas is even Israel’s goal. From what we hear, Israel is to defeat Hamas at the negotiating table, not in battle! That will never happen, because jihadist groups can only be defeated on the battlefield.

Hamas is not the only jihadist group threatening Israel and the West, it’s just the Palestinian Arab version, in tandem with Islamic Jihad. Others of a similar ilk are Hizbollah in Lebanon, Islamic State (IS, ISIL, ISIS) in Syria/Iraq (there’s no longer a border between the two), al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, and others. These organizations all share the same DNA: establishing a Caliphate (a vast “nation” ruled by stringent Islamic law: Sharia) throughout the Middle East, Europe and beyond; replacing Western civilization; converting and/or killing the infidels; and converting or subjugating the Jews and Christians, “the people of the Book.”

The West is having a hard time comprehending the threat against it. For example, on 8/22, US Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff warned: “It is possible to contain [ISIS]. They can be contained, but not in perpetuity. This is an organization that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision which will eventually have to be defeated.” (

But it was reported several days later that, “Dempsey appeared to backtrack his statement on Monday when he indicated he would have to determine whether ISIS posed a direct threat to the United States before he would recommend attacks in Syria, according to Fox News.” (

While Obama and other Western leaders can dawdle because they are not (yet) being attacked on their home ground, Israel doesn’t have that luxury.

I must confess that before this latest “operation” with Hamas, I was positive that Israel would no longer submit to fighting a protracted conflict with either Hamas (Gaza) or Hezbollah (Lebanon).
Imagine this scenario: Hizbollah and Hamas jointly launch a sudden attack on Israel with hundreds of missiles, many of them precision guided. Hundreds of Israelis die as the missiles hit their targets: factories, train and bus stations, Ben Gurion Airport, the Knesset, etc.
With hundreds of civilian casualties on the first day, it would be inconceivable that Israeli leaders would not immediately direct the IDF, one of the world’s premier fighting forces, to wreak havoc across Lebanon and Gaza to prevent the deaths of thousands more Israelis – Jewish, Muslim, Druze, and Christian.

The result, within several days, would be wholesale destruction in both Lebanon and Gaza, obliterating the weapons depots and launching pads that the two terror groups had implanted within civilian residences and institutions. Many thousands of Arabs would be killed, but the war would soon be over. Nevertheless, there would be hundreds of Israeli casualties as well. (Remember the Six Day War of 1967? A stupendous victory was achieved in six days.)

Naturally, the world would then erupt in frenzied tirades against Israel for daring to use its prodigious power to defend itself. Anti-Semitism would increase far beyond its current level. A Security Council Resolution condemning Israel would be vetoed by the United States, but would pass in the General Assembly. Israel’s reputation would again be dragged through the mud. BUT, the uproar would soon die down, the jihadist enemies would have been defeated militarily, many Lebanese and Palestinian Arabs would curse the jihadists for causing this disaster, thousands of Israeli lives would have been saved, and life would go on. That’s what I used to think. Now, after more than 50 days of absorbing rocket attacks, I’m not sure under which circumstances Israel would unleash the IDF.

While scores of thousands of Israeli reserve forces are currently poised on the border with Gaza, the government shows no inclination to use them, despite near-chaos, economic and social, enveloping the nation. Israel’s government is “ending” this operation with yet another ceasefire, which is “expected” to last at least 30 days. This, despite the fact that every ceasefire until now has been violated by Hamas.

On August 18, during a speech in the beleaguered town of Sderot (which has endured thousands of rocket and mortar attacks due to its location one mile from Gaza!), the prime minister told the representatives of various youth movements working in the city, “We are in the midst of a diplomatic campaign, … one needs much strength, patience, persistence and wisdom… And we are in a combined military-diplomatic campaign in which our unity and our steadfastness are what will be victorious.” (

The Times of Israel reported that the latest poll commissioned by TV Channel 2, showed that only 38 percent of Israelis “supported” Netanyahu, while a full 50% were dissatisfied. This is a huge drop in support of the leadership since earlier in this operation, when Bibi had wall-to-wall support. Most Israelis, including the soldiers, want to achieve some type of victory over Hamas. But the leaders at the top of Israel’s government, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Minister of Defense Yaalon, and IDF Chief of Staff, want to end the fighting rather than defeat Hamas.

At a time when 70% of Israelis have fled their homes in the south, I would like to believe that Bibi’s strategy is correct. However, it flies in the face of common sense to put faith in the idea of negotiating any kind of “quiet and security” with jihadist groups, let along “peace.”
Jihadist groups proclaim, and they mean it, that they will never give up their credo to destroy the state of Israel and institute Muslim rule. The people of Israel understand and are not convinced that this battle can be won at the bargaining table.

The West may be late in realizing this, but there’s little excuse for Israel, whose homeland is under attack, not to recognize that its enemies must be defeated, not placated.

About the Author
Steve Kramer grew up in Atlantic City, graduated from Johns Hopkins in 1967, adopted the hippie lifestyle until 1973, then joined the family business for 15 years. Steve moved to Israel from Margate, NJ in 1991 with his family. He has written more than 1100 articles about Israel and Jews since making Aliyah. Steve and his wife Michal live in Kfar Saba.