The Gaza Strip must be returned to the Stone Age. Not in the sense of destroying every home and all the infrastructure, which would leave Gaza residents wandering among ruins. Rather, Israel should eliminate every rocket, bomb and gun in Gaza. In other words, get rid of the arsenal Hamas has accumulated over the past 10 years. The snake must be defanged, leaving Hamas without rockets. The most it would have left would be stones.
There is only one way to do this — an extensive ground operation. This must be carried out with determination and clenched lips, with the knowledge that this is a war of no choice.
Over the past decade, intentionally or negligently, Israeli governments have allowed Gaza to turn into a terror base. There have been military operations and targeted assassinations, yet Gaza terror groups, led by Hamas, have nevertheless been able, via both smuggling from outside Gaza and internal production, to build up stockpiles of rockets. This has created a “balance of terror” between Israel, with its large and sophisticated army and air force, and Hamas, armed with several thousand rockets. Israeli deterrence has been eroded by Hamas’ ability to strike the central Gush Dan area.
This is an intolerable situation, yet it has become a fact. Given the current circumstances, the time has come to change this reality. Restoring quiet would not be enough. Rather, Israel must return Hamas to a situation in which the most it can do is throw stones. This is how it was when Hamas was founded, in Gaza, during the First Intifada. But since then, particularly over the past 10 years, Hamas equipped itself with long-range rockets. It would take only 10 days to return Hamas to the Stone Age.
The current crisis began with horrible kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teens last month. This was followed by the revolting killing of the Arab teen, after which the violence in Gaza and its surrounding area began. Three and a half weeks passed between the start of the crisis and the launch of Operation Protective Edge. On one hand, the government could perhaps be praised for the levelheadedness, restraint and sound judgment it exhibited before ordering the Israel Defense Forces to launch Operation Protective Edge. On the other hand, the government could perhaps be questioned over why it took so long for it to give such a necessary order.
But on Monday, the order was given. Thousands of reserve soldiers have been called up. Our forces are preparing. The Israeli Air Force is attacking. And Hamas is continuing to do what it does.
There are moments in the life of a nation when history is made. This could be such a moment, if we utilize it. This time, the method must be different — no pinpricks or surgical strikes, but rather a massive concentration of force.
Instead of battalions or brigades, whole divisions must march shoulder to shoulder, moving forward like a steamroller, slowly but also very powerfully. Anyone familiar with military history knows how this method works. It has been used successfully in the past. Not on the “modern battlefield,” but the battlefields of old. A massive concentration of force covering every meter of the front, rolling into Gaza, destroying all points of resistance, blowing up every tunnel and eliminating the entire terrorist arsenal there. After completing the mission, the force will pull out.
Such an operation would enjoy the support of the Israeli public, including residents of the south, who have suffered enough, and residents of the center and the north, who are now being threatened by the long-range rockets of Hamas.
The task assigned to our forces must be much more than “returning the quiet.” The order must be to eliminate Hamas’ ability to threaten us. And when our forces depart Gaza, they must leave Hamas, or what remains of it, back in the Stone Age.