Here is something I wrote in January 2009 (“A mistake with long-term consequences“):
It is absolutely incredible that Israel sought a cease-fire with Hamas instead of finishing it off…
Hamas has always been open and direct about its intentions. They have never pretended that a cease-fire is anything other than a temporary pause to regain strength, never suggested that they would accept the presence of the Jewish state. Now they say that they believe they will be ready for the next round in about a year and so that’s how long the want the cease-fire to be…
Hamas will not go away on its own, Hamas cannot be ‘moderated’ and Hamas will always be hostile. There simply is no solution for Hamas short of removing it from power and disarming it. The IDF was well on the way to doing that, and doing it efficiently with minimal casualties among its soldiers and Gaza civilians, despite the huge outcry in the Israel-hating media.
The fact that this was not carried to completion will simply mean that the confrontation, with all the dangers and costs entailed will have to happen again. And again, and again until it is actually finished. Someone mentioned the film “Groundhog Day” in this connection.
I am afraid that the premature termination of Operation Cast Lead will go down in history as another catastrophic mistake by Israel, along with the 1982 decision to allow Arafat to escape from Beirut alive, the Oslo accords and the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza.
Well, here we are a bit less than a year away, and guess what:
Since Operation Cast Lead ended almost a year ago, Hamas has increased its weapons smuggling and today operates hundreds of tunnels along the Philadelphi Corridor. It has smuggled in dozens of long-range Iranian-made rockets that can reach Tel Aviv as well as advanced anti-aircraft missiles and anti-tank missiles.
Hamas is believed to have a significant number of shoulder-launched anti-tank missiles and 9M113 Konkurs, which have a range of four kilometers and are capable of penetrating heavy armor.
In addition, Hamas is believed to have today a few thousand rockets, including several hundred with a range of 40 kilometers and several dozen with a range of between 60 and 80 km. Intelligence assessments are that Hamas smuggled the missiles into the Gaza Strip through tunnels, possibly in several components.
Iran already supplies Hamas with 122mm Katyusha rockets that are smuggled into Gaza in several pieces and then assembled by Hamas engineers.
One of the main lessons Hamas learned from Cast Lead was the need to reinforce its defenses and as a result has invested efforts in digging additional tunnels, which connect open fields with homes belonging to key operatives as well as command centers…
Hamas has also increased its use of civilian infrastructure, particularly mosques, which the terror group already used quite extensively for storage and launching rockets during the operation. Hamas is believed to have taken control of almost 80 percent of the mosques in Gaza, using them to store weapons and set up command-and-control centers.
Hamas, is “padding” itself as well by setting up its command centers in large apartment buildings. This way, it believes, the IDF will not attack them by air, and will need to send ground forces deep into the population centers, where it will lose its technological advantage.
In addition, Hamas is hoping to increase the effectiveness of its rocket capability during a future conflict and has created large missile silos.
Hamas has also recently increased its efforts to dig what the IDF calls “offensive tunnels” close to the border with Israel, which the terror group could use to infiltrate into Israel and kidnap soldiers. — Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post
It is possible — I think likely — that American pressure to end it before Barack Obama’s inauguration was in part responsible for Israel’s bailing out of the operation early.
But those of us who have friends, relatives or even children who serve in the IDF or reserves and will soon come face to face with the fortifications and weapons mentioned above — or Israeli civilians anywhere in the now-expanded Hamas rocket range — may find it difficult to think kindly of Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni and Ehud Barak, who failed to stand firm when they needed to.