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    Sunday, July 21, 2024

    War in Gaza undermines security, endangers Jews

    “Hamas can’t be destroyed.” So announced Israel Defense Forces spokesman, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, recently. Immediately, Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu contradicted him, revealing extraordinary disarray at the highest levels of the Israeli government.

    Actually, Netanyahu’s rebuke was a concession, in which he reformulated his original war aim of “eradicating Hamas” into “the destruction of Hamas’s military and governance capabilities.”

    While the concession was long overdue, it did not acknowledge the whole of what Hagari said. “This business of destroying Hamas, making Hamas disappear — it’s simply throwing sand in the eyes of the public. Hamas is an idea, Hamas is a party. It’s rooted in the hearts of the people — anyone who thinks we can eliminate Hamas is wrong.” The “idea,” of course, is freedom for Palestinians.

    Netanyahu’s objective is even less attainable when you consider the military challenge involved. Attacking a guerrilla force operating in an extensive and sophisticated tunnel system underneath a dense urban environment is an almost insurmountable challenge.

    Netanyahu claims that this was done successfully in the defeat of ISIS in Mosul, but Mosul was not Gaza. The ISIS tunnel system in Mosul was primitive and limited, and Iraqi federal forces took heavy casualties eradicating ISIS, something the IDF is unwilling to do. The IDF has sustained less than 350 fatalities in Gaza.

    Yet, the key difference is that Mosul had no boundaries, while Gaza is tightly bounded by the sea, the border fence and Egypt. ISIS in Mosul had complete freedom of movement and was a threat across the Mideast and beyond, while Hamas is focused only on the Holy Land and is completely contained within Gaza — except for lapses such as Israel’s astounding one on Oct. 7.

    Containment is sufficient. Therein lies the real takeaway. The invasion of Gaza is completely unnecessary for Israel’s self-defense.

    All observers agree that all that was needed to have prevented the Oct. 7 attack was careful monitoring of the Gaza border, the stationing of minimal forces on 24/7 alert in the border area to respond immediately to any incursion — IDF ground troops and IAF aircraft ready for takeoff.

    Those simple measures would have been sufficient on Oct. 7, as they would have been over the last nine months, and will be going forward. Israel, led by Netanyahu, has launched an unnecessary war with arguably unattainable objectives — resulting in total devastation and casualties now exceeding 100,000 inflicted upon a defenseless population including the elderly, women, children, doctors and aid workers. That is immoral.

    In defense of his actions, Netanyahu has said simply “War is hell.”

    The invasion has displaced the entire population. No one has a home anymore. The infrastructure of water and sewage pipes and electricity lines has been destroyed. Gaza is now uninhabitable. Is that the objective? So that Gazans will have to leave?

    It is impossible to know what Israel’s day-after plan is, or even whether Israel has one. Netanyahu has rejected every proposal floated so far. He has said that the day-after plan will be decided the day after. Yet, the Israeli military brass has said that knowing the end is required to determine the means by which to get there. How do you navigate without knowing your destination?

    Without a plan, Israel is now repeating major combat operations in northern and central Gaza that was supposedly “cleared” months ago as the invasion moved north to south. Hamas has not been cleared. Else why was it necessary a week ago last Saturday for the IAF to strike three neighborhoods in Gaza City in northern Gaza with heavy bombs?

    On Wednesday, Hagari warned “if the government doesn’t find an alternative — (Hamas) will remain.” His warning fails to comprehend that, just as children cannot choose their parents, nations cannot choose their enemies. Unless the IDF does somehow eradicate Hamas, it has to deal with the enemy it has — Hamas — not the “enemy” it wants.

    Absent the total defeat of Hamas, there can be no return of the hostages nor end to the war without a negotiated settlement. Like it or not.

    Otherwise, the IDF will have to reoccupy Gaza and fight an unending low-grade war against a diminished but uneradicated Hamas. Israel will become a nation of 7.2 million Jews consumed with the full-time military occupation of 5.2 million Palestinians in Gaza and on the West Bank. That is a bleak future.

    What are the other consequences of Netanyahu’s unnecessary and manifestly cruel war? Avril Haines, director of U.S. national intelligence, said in Congressional testimony that Gaza will have “a generational impact on terrorism” — in other words, Gaza will increase terrorism exponentially — obviously targeting Israel and all Jews, but also the U.S. for supplying the arms used to pulverize Gaza. Netanyahu’s war in Gaza is undermining Israeli security, endangering Jews worldwide — and eroding U.S. national security which should matter to all Americans.

    This column appeared originally on Real Clear Politics.

    Red Jahncke is the founder and CEO of Connecticut-based The Townsend Group International, LLC. He is a nationally recognized columnist who writes about politics and policy.

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