Learning the Wrong Lessons from the Disengagement from Gaza

Fifteen years after Israel withdrew completely from the Gaza Strip, and evicted the Jews who lived there, many of the former officers and other self-described security experts who supported the move at the time continue to argue that it was the correct decision, pointing to the decrease in the number of Israelis killed and wounded since then. But, argues Gershon Hacohen, this is the wrong yardstick:

[B]y making the number of casualties the main criterion by which to assess the security situation, as U.S. generals did in Vietnam to cover up their abysmal failures, the “experts” ignore the fact that a national-security equation does not by any means depend primarily on the number of wounded and killed. If that were indeed the key criterion, most struggles for national liberation would not have happened.

To begin with, Israel’s withdrawal reinforced Hamas’s belief that Palestinian victory will be won through “resistance” and not by political means, à la the approach of Mahmoud Abbas. . . . According to Hamas, it was not the yearning for peace that impelled the Israelis to withdraw from Gaza but operative and mental distress in the face of relentless “resistance,” similar to the panicky flight from Lebanon in May 2000. Hence the two-state solution has succumbed to a radical logic that paints it, according to Hamas’s former leader Khaled Mashal, in the colors of an ongoing phased strategy in the ceaseless struggle for Israel’s destruction.

For rockets, missiles, and mortars, as well as explosive and incendiary balloons, the fence [separating Israel from Gaza] is not an obstacle. Nor does it inhibit the tunnel threat. The fence does contribute to the regular security routine, but in symmetrical fashion it helps the enemy build up its power undisturbed. Under the protection of the fence, . . . Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been able to form an organized military force, comprising battalions and brigades, replete with a concealed and protected arsenal of rocket fire and supported by an effective command-and-control system.

Yet, writes Hacohen, these same experts wish to apply the same logic to the West Bank, risking far more disastrous consequences.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza withdrawal, Hamas, Israeli Security, Vietnam War, West Bank

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy