It’s the Islamists who determine the timing and scale of violence, and the rise of the Brotherhood in Egypt can only further complicate
matters for Israel.
The IDF, when speaking of its enemies, tends to take a stern pedagogical tone. Hamas, for
example, is often told what “it needs to understand.”
But as the ongoing intermittent rocket fire and counter fire across the Gaza border shows, the timing and scale of conflict in the South is actually dictated by Hamas, not Israel. And Israel’s difficulties may well intensify now that the Muslim Brotherhood has come to power in Egypt – requiring still greater Israeli sensitivity in tackling Hamas, the Brotherhood’s ally, to avoid providing pretexts for a further deterioration in ties with Cairo.
“Quiet will be met with quiet and fire will be met with fire,” military sources said after a meeting with IDF Chief of the General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz on Saturday, during an escalation in the latest round of violence between Israel and Gaza, which continued Tuesday night with five rockets fired on the Israeli city of Netivot. That equation might give the impression that Israel gets to determine how it wants to respond, but in reality it means that Hamas can snipe at Israel, bait her, fire or allow others to fire, with full knowledge that it controls the tempo and severity of Israel’s response.
“The initiative is entirely in the hands of the terrorists,” said Reuven Pedatzur, a former fighter pilot and lecturer at Tel Aviv University’s security studies program, “and we’re trapped in an impossible situation.”
Ever since April 16, 2001, Gaza-based terror organizations have fired roughly 12,700 mortars and rockets at Israel. The IDF, in turn, has launched one large-scale ground invasion and hundreds of airstrikes – insisting on immediately responding to cross-border fire.
These wearying and painful strikes and counter-strikes have unfolded within a fairly rigid set of parameters: Too grave an assault on Israel, Hamas has known, would trigger a very substantial Israeli response. And too severe an Israeli offensive would trigger an international outcry.
Photo: By @N03 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons