vrijdag 16 maart 2007

Is Gazaoorlog onvermijdelijk?

Sinds november is er een fragiel staakt-het-vuren tussen Israël en de Gazastrook. Toch zijn er sindsdien honderden Kassam raketten op Israëlische steden afgevuurd, sommigen met een reikwijdte van 16 km, en de Palestijnen zijn al in staat raketten met een reikwijdte van 20 km te maken. In Israël wordt hardop nagedacht over een hernieuwd grond offensief in de Gazastrook, zowel om aan de raketten een einde te maken alsook om te voorkomen dat Hamas een tweede Hezbollah wordt. Hamas is druk bezig zich in een efficiënt guerilla leger naar het voorbeeld van Hezbollah om te vormen, en verschillende 'strijders' hebben al een training in Iran gevolgd.


Is Gaza war inevitable?
Government seems to have come to terms with inevitability of Gaza operation
Alex Fishman - Ynet - Published: 03.14.07, 10:29 / Israel Opinion

Israel has been sitting on the fence for the last four months, biting its
nails, counting Qassam rockets and looking impatiently as Gaza arms itself
to the teeth and prepares for a confrontation. If we don't get off the
grandstands and take some kind of action - on the security or diplomatic
front - we shall invariably find ourselves on the court with thousands of
troops, tanks and armored vehicles.

All the scenarios point to a war in the Gaza Strip, the most densely
populated area in the world. The army is preparing for every eventuality,
and it's beginning to look inevitable - a developing process that has
reached the point of no return.

This is what Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin spoke about Tuesday. He didn't come
to present armament figures, but to caution: A decision must be made to do
something, whether diplomatic or a move that would thwart future
developments. Otherwise we shall be dragged into a wide scale,
uncontrollable conflict.

During a meeting with military reporters a month ago, Diskin noted that the
timing of a large military campaign should be carefully weighed, because we
must take "the day after" into account. No one is really interested in
seeing the Palestinian Authority collapse, thus forcing Israel to
reestablish the Civil Administration.

A senior defense establishment official says that each time the army asks
the prime minister to change something in the rules of engagement pertaining
to the Qassam launchers or to carry out a limited operation in the Strip
along the fence the answer is: "No, we shall maintain the ceasefire to the
end. So that when we have to strike we'll have clean hands in the eyes of
the international community and we'll gain support."

The defense establishment feels that even the political echelons have
already come to terms with the inevitability of a military operation.

Hamas prepares for IDF assault
A twin engine rocket with a 16 kilometer (10 mile) range has already landed
in Ashkelon close to Kibbutz Bror Hail, and the clock is still ticking. The
Palestinian military industry will soon have a production line for rockets
with even longer ranges. Grad missiles with a 20 kilometer range have
already been smuggled into the Strip and are being duplicated by the locals.

According to the Shin Bet chief's forecast, some 200,000 Israelis will find
themselves under the threat of missile fire from Gaza as early as this year.
The Home Front Command has already drawn up a plan at a cost of a billion
and a half shekels (roughly USD 400 million) for reinforcing the communities
located up to 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Strip; however, it doesn't
seem like anyone is planning to really budget the plan.

In parallel to upgrading the rockets against the Israeli home front, Hamas
is working on efficiently hindering an Israeli ground assault. Four
divisions have already been established. The Hamas army, which is based on
the Hizbullah model and already numbers 8,000, is well equipped and trained.
Its troops are sent to Iran for studies and training, where they learn the
Hizbullah lessons from the last war.

The assumption is that Hamas' strength currently equals that of Hizbullah in
2001. And just like in Lebanon, bunkers and underground tunnels under
built-up areas are also being constructed in order to withstand the IDF's
aerial bombing.

This effective military might, which is improving daily, is being
accumulated under the IDF's nose. A significant improvement was made
recently in its capability to deal with the IDF's armored vehicles by
enhancement of its explosive devices and purchase of innovative anti-tank

Then there are another 5,500 troops, the Hamas security forces, who
demonstrated an impressive capability against Fatah in recent months. The
war taking shape in the Gaza Strip is not inevitable. The question is where
to find the leadership that would make the right decisions.

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