Israel Should Seek More from Hamas Than a Return to the Status Quo Ante

The fighting between Israel and Hamas has not yet abated, but it’s possible that this round of conflict is coming to an end. Yet even if Israel succeeds in deterring Hamas from further attacks, writes Amos Yadlin, the result will be what he calls an “asymmetric strategic tie.”

Hamas has been able to erode the Israeli deterrence that was established since Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, to breach the calm that prevailed in [Israel’s] south, and to try to define new “equations” and rules of engagement. To be sure, Hamas did not plan the March of Return or the kite- and balloon-based arson attacks, but it found in them attractive tactics and turned them into two central operational efforts. . . .

Israel has undoubtedly scored impressive achievements: its borders were not breached and its citizens were not harmed. Hamas weapons factories, training camps, and storage facilities were wiped out by the air force. Yet Hamas still has a sense of achievement. It has once again put the Gaza issue—both its humanitarian and political aspects—on the international agenda, damaged Israel’s image, undermined the sense of security among the Israeli population in the communities near the Gaza border, and challenged Israeli sovereignty in the Gaza environs.

In order to break this ongoing tie, Israel must adopt a proactive rather than a reactive strategy. It must take an approach designed to change the reality and not sanctify the status quo. . . . [First], efforts can and must be made to promote more modest understandings, namely, a limited hudna [Arabic for a temporary truce]. A fundamental condition for such an arrangement is a total halt of terror from Gaza and the return of Israeli civilians and bodies of the fallen soldiers held by Hamas. . . .

If the moves toward an arrangement are unsuccessful and Hamas clings to its position and continues to challenge Israel militarily, there will be no choice but to prepare for a broad military operation in Gaza. The minimum objective will be to cause very serious damage to Hamas, particularly its military wing, and reestablish long-term deterrence to facilitate the enforcement of a more stable arrangement with parameters that address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza while ensuring quiet and security on the Israeli side of the border. Meanwhile, effective mechanisms must be established to ensure that Hamas is neither building new military capabilities nor scoring points that will strengthen it in the Palestinian political arena.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Protective Edge

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy