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Isarel and Gaza

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Is Another Gaza War in the Offing?

November 12th 2012

IDF On Guard

As a series of Hamas war crimes send hundreds of rockets into civilian areas of southern Israel, the IDF and the civilian government are scrambling to come up with an effective response. Two trenchant analyses of possible responses were published on Sunday, outlining the government's options and their likely decision. Ron Ben-Yishai, writing in YNet, says that Hamas wants to continue its racist attacks on Israeli civilians "without dragging Israel into an extensive military campaign." They have assumed that "the current Israeli government will not want to launch a major military operation before the elections," which are scheduled for January.

Israel could confound this strategy by attacking in force, but this would invite serious diplomatic consequences due to the presence of the Hamas-supporting Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt. To balance all these interests will not be "an easy task."

In the Times of Israel, Mitch Ginsburg holds that: "Israel wishes to present Hamas with an equation that says: either smother all terror from within your area, or face penalties that could ultimately result in a far greater loss of sovereignty — the toppling of your regime."

The IDF is likely contemplating several scenarios for achieving this. It could undertake a limited attack on Gaza; it could invade in force, as it did in the Cast Lead operation, and attempt to 'shake the foundations of Hamas’s hold on power"; or it could begin undertaking targeted assassinations of Hamas leaders.

There is also, says Ginsburg, "A final, least-discussed option," which is "to open direct talks with Hamas." This would be hugely unpopular with the Israeli electorate, but might be a way to achieve long-term calm on the southern border.

It seems clear that, whatever the IDF chooses to do, it will only be the best of many bad options.

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