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Thursday, November 15, 2012
Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin calls for retaking Philadelphi Corridor?

As a first step, it is possible to raid the border areas, destroy Hamas’s
tunnels and strongholds, divide the Gaza Strip, and block future routes of
terrorist reinforcement.

With Resolve, Good Judgment, and Deliberate Speed
INSS Insight No. 385, November 15, 2012
Yadlin, Amos and Golov, Avner

The Israeli public and its decision makers understand that slogans such as
“eliminating Hamas” or “talking to Hamas” will not win a war or resolve the
Palestinian problem. Indeed, the objectives of Operation Pillar of Defense
are carefully defined: to restore Israel’s deterrence vis-à-vis Hamas by
dealing a severe blow to the Palestinian terrorist organizations in the Gaza
Strip and denying them the use of their strategic array of long range
rockets. The operation began on November 14, 2012 with impressive military
and intelligence success, and although Hamas' arsenal of strategic rockets
was not fully destroyed, it seems that the goals of the operation have been
almost fully attained. The experience of the Second Lebanon War and
Operation Cast Lead has shown that it takes some time until the blow
registers and has an effect on the decision makers of the other side.

Ending the operation will also require charting a smart and responsible
course: continuing the fighting will allow the IDF to damage Hamas more
deeply and prepare for the possibility of a ground incursion, but
simultaneously it is necessary to look for opportunities to end the round of
fighting given what has already been achieved.

Egypt has an important role to play in facilitating an exit strategy, and
Egypt’s initial reaction is no reason to panic. If Egypt truly desires the
status of an influential regional power, it must maintain lines of
communication with Israel and preserve its role as a mediator capable of
ending the round of escalation. Recalling the Egyptian ambassador to Israel
is not a departure from Egypt’s traditional responses to events of this
type. Egypt recalled its ambassador during the First Lebanon War and after
the first helicopter attack during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002. The
decision to send a delegation to Gaza led by Prime Minister Hisham Kandial
testifies to the Egyptian desire to strengthen its status as a mediator and
broker a ceasefire as soon as possible. The leaders in both Jerusalem and
Cairo would do well to contain existing frustrations and disagreements to
allow constructive Egyptian mediation for ending this chapter quickly.

Conventional wisdom has generally said that fighting on one front would in
all likelihood lead to the opening of a second front, and that the chances
for having the "luxury" of fighting on one front only – as during the Second
Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead – are slim. But Syria is beset by a
civil war and it seems unlikely that the Syrian army, busy fighting for the
survival of the Assad regime and combating against the rebels brutally and
without compromise, will divert forces to opening another front – dangerous
to Syria – against Israel. Hizbollah too is more preoccupied with events in
Syria than with developments in the Gaza Strip. The threat to Hizbollah’s
status within Lebanon, the damage to its legitimacy, and its low standing in
the Sunni world because of its support for Assad reduce the probability it
will ignite the northern front. Nonetheless, the IDF must be prepared for
such an eventuality.

Washington and London understand that Hamas is a terrorist organization and
that just as in Operation Cast Lead, it was Hamas that decided on the timing
of the fighting by launching massive rocket attacks on Israel. Israel has
received noteworthy support from the United States. President Obama and US
Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice (a leading candidate to replace Secretary of
State Clinton) reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend its southern citizens.
Similarly, Britain’s call for the end of fighting and denunciation of Hamas
attacks on Israeli cities and towns indicate the extent to which Israel
succeeded in attaining its goals without having to pay a steep political

Operation Pillar of Defense is legitimate both morally and legally. Israel
showed restraint for a long time, but the intolerable disruption of the
lives of one million citizens in the south, Hamas’s decision to join the
more extreme terrorists operating in the Gaza Strip instead of restraining
them, and the two attempts to attack IDF forces on sovereign Israeli
territory – one, a booby trapped tunnel, and two, direct fire at an Israeli
army jeep on the east side of the border – required a response. It is the
state’s obligation to defend its citizens and sovereignty. This is not about
a targeted assassination or revenge: such words simply have no place in
describing the reality of the southern front. Rather, it is about a
confrontation between two armies: the IDF and the Palestinian terrorist
army. It is about attacking senior commanding officers in the enemy’s ranks
and destroying the enemy’s strategic arms caches.

At the same time, the Gaza Strip is but one front on the greater Palestinian
arena, and therefore the long term solution is to be found in a total view
of the two comprising pieces, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. In the
absence of a political process, and when Israel’s policy consists of giving
the moderates in the Palestinian camp the cold shoulder, Israel’s legitimacy
on the international arena will erode the longer the operation lasts,
especially if there are widespread casualties to Palestinian civilians.
Therefore, the overall Israeli strategy must include some carrots to the
moderates in the PA in order to strengthen them, and powerful sticks to the
extremist terrorists in order to weaken them.

At the moment, it is necessary to make it clear to Hamas that Israel has not
yet realized its potential for damaging it: the Israeli air force has
hundreds more targets for attack. However, it would be best to avoid full
occupation of the Gaza Strip. The disengagement from Gaza was an important
strategic move serving the security of the State of Israel, and it should
not be undermined. Returning to a situation of controlling one and a half
million Palestinians (in addition to those in the West Bank) would be a
severe strategic mistake. But in case Hamas does not allow the fighting to
end, the IDF must be prepared for a large scale ground offensive in the Gaza
Strip. As a first step, it is possible to raid the border areas, destroy
Hamas’s tunnels and strongholds, divide the Gaza Strip, and block future
routes of terrorist reinforcement.

Israel must demonstrate its determination to expand the systemic damage to
Hamas in order to increase the pressure on it and renew IDF deterrence.
Hamas’s conduct in the Gaza Strip is in many respects that of a state, and
Israel must take advantage of this situation to demand that it act with
statesmanlike responsibility. At the same time, it must look for
opportunities to end the fighting once the objectives of the operation are

The Institute for National Security Studies • 40 Haim Levanon St. • Tel
Aviv 61398 • Israel • 03-640-0400 • e-mail: info@inss.org.il
Amos Yadlin, born 1951, was named director of Tel Aviv University’s
Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in November 2011, after more
than 40 years of service in the Israel Defense Forces, ten of which he was a
member of the IDF General Staff.

From 2006-2010, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yadlin served as the IDF’s chief of Defense
Intelligence. From 2004-2006, he served as the IDF attaché to the United
States. In February 2002, he earned the rank of major general and was named
commander of the IDF Military Colleges and the National Defense College.

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yadlin, a former deputy commander of the Israel Air Force,
has commanded two fighter squadrons and two airbases. He has also served as
Head of IAF Planning Department (1990-1993). He accumulated about 5,000
flight hours and flew more than 250 combat missions behind enemy lines. He
participated in the Yom Kippur War (1973), Operation Peace for Galilee
(1982) and Operation Tamuz – the destruction of the Osirak nuclear reactor
in Iraq (1981).

Yadlin holds a B.A. in economics and business administration from Ben-Gurion
University of the Negev (1985). He also holds a Master's degree in Public
Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard
University (1994).

Before his appointment as Director of INSS, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yadlin joined
the Washington Institute for Near East Policy as the Kay Fellow on Israeli
national security.

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yadlin has written on national security, force development,
intelligence, civil-military relations, and the military ethics of fighting

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