Israel Risks Losing Its Ability to Deter Hamas

May 13, 2019 | Amos Yadlin

For some time, Israel has followed the principle of “quiet will be met with quiet” in dealing with the Gaza Strip—and with its enemies in Syria and elsewhere. In practice this means that so long as Hamas does not launch rockets or conduct other attacks, the IDF will not engage it militarily, but any attacks will be met with a swift military response. To Amos Yadlin, the recent flareups show that this strategy is losing its effectiveness:

The positive aspect of the recent round against Gaza was the return, by the IDF, to the targeted killing of militants, the bombing of rocket-manufacturing facilities and warehouses, and the destruction of military installations and high-rise apartment blocks. . . .

The Israeli public, [however, remains] in the dark about the parameters of the long-term cease-fire agreement being negotiated with Hamas. What is known is that Israel is continuing to [allow the transfer of funds to] a terrorist organization but is refusing to talk to a legitimate, internationally recognized, Palestinian Authority. The message to Palestinians is clear: using terror against Israel is a means to achieve your desired objectives.

Above all else, Israel’s deterrence is shattered. Hamas is no longer fazed by the prospect of a military confrontation. The militant group still fears a full-blown war, but that too will change. The policy of “quiet will be met by quiet” or “quiet in exchange for money” is no longer viable. . . . It is time to begin reinstating Israel’s deterrence by causing massive injury to the military wing of Hamas, enemy loss of life notwithstanding—[including] the use of targeted killing of militant commanders, preferably carried out with surprising, unexpected tactics. The key here is the need to take initiative rather than responding and being led.

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