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Friday, November 23, 2012
Dore Gold : Retake Philadelphi Corridor?

to preserve what it has accomplished, Israel and the U.S. will have to put
in place arrangements for the Philadelphi Route to prevent Iran from
replacing all the weaponry that Israel has destroyed. Closing the outer
perimeter to a territory where an insurgency war is being waged has been
proven time and again to be a prerequisite for assuring stability in the
long term.

How wars end
By Dore Gold 23 November 2012 - Yisrael Hayom

At a time when the political discourse in Israel is focusing on how the
current operation in Gaza should have come to an end, it is useful to look
at a classic book on international affairs called "Every War Must End." The
author of this study is Fred Ikle, who was not only an undersecretary of
defense in the Reagan administration, but also a professor at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the head of the prestigious RAND
Corporation in Santa Monica, Calif.

The book really is about what perpetuates wars unnecessarily. Ikle’s
analysis was written with the Vietnam War in mind, but he has revised it
since then. He appears to have been mainly concerned with how states handle
guerrilla wars. Some of its principles are useful to review in the Israeli
context, if mistakes that many other countries have made are to be avoided.

Ikle’s first principle is that the purpose of the use of force is to defeat
the military forces of the enemy. This is not as obvious as it seems. Many
states locked into difficult guerrilla wars eventually turn to “punishment?
strategies that are used to break the will of their adversaries, or what he
calls “peace through escalation.? When a state is stuck in what appears to
be a stalemate, there will always be people who look for more extreme
solutions, hoping that the use of more force will change the situation

Ikle reminds his readers that the use of force against the civilian
population will not work. Despotic rulers will not seek peace simply because
his soldiers and civilians are suffering from the war. The U.S. tried
punishment strategies in the Korean War against Kim Il-sung and in the
Vietnam War against Ho Chi Minh and failed to get either leader to seek a
peaceful outcome. The Iranians tried to punish Iraq’s allies in the
Iran-Iraq War by striking their oil infrastructures, but by expanding the
conflict they only brought in the U.S. against them.

Thus there are unintended side effects for a state adopting punishment
strategies that can be totally self-defeating. In the current Gaza conflict,
it is Hamas that is using a punishment strategy by striking larger numbers
of Israeli cities and reaching northward as far as Tel Aviv and the
outskirts of Jerusalem. But what Hamas has done is to create far greater
solidarity on the Israeli side rather than break the will of the Israeli
public. Rather than splitting the Israeli public it has put Tel Aviv and
Ashdod in the same boat, thereby forming a strong Israeli consensus for
waging a war to stop the rocket attacks.

A second issue that Ikle raises that perpetuates modern wars is the
existence of outside support for the guerrilla forces a state might be
fighting. This is not just a matter of the supply of weapons or funding, it
is has a broader impact on the morale of guerrilla fighters involved in an
insurgency against a well-equipped army. If they are isolated and have no
reinforcements coming they are psychologically more prone to halt their

Israel has acquired experience in this area in the last decade. One of the
cardinal strategic errors in the 2005 Disengagement was the decision of
Prime Minister Sharon to withdraw Israel’s military presence from the
Philadelphi Route along the Gaza-Sinai border, after which the number of
supply tunnels increased dramatically. Prior to the Disengagement, only
short-range rockets were fired at Israel, like the Qassam, that was
manufactured in Gaza. But in 2006, suddenly the longer-range Grad rocket
that is manufactured in Iran was fired for the first time at Ashkelon,
indicating how the improved lines of supply to Hamas was changing the

It became extremely difficult to reach a decisive outcome in the war in Gaza
and defeat Hamas as long as it had this link to external sources of supply,
like Iran. In comparison, the IDF was able to defeat Hamas and other
organizations in the West Bank in 2002, during Operation Defensive Shield,
partly because their forces had no external source of supply. Israel
continued to seal off the outer perimeter of the West Bank — the Jordan
Valley — and did not pull out from this strategic area, as it had withdrawn
from Philadelphi Route. As a result, the war in Gaza continued from the
Disengagement until today, while no such armed conflict on a similar scale
erupted in the West Bank.

There is a third issue that Ikle raises that sometimes keeps conflicts going
for longer than they should: a pessimistic outlook in Western democracies
has taken hold that guerrilla forces cannot be defeated. As a result many
people tend to doubt the ability of their own armed forces to win modern
wars and popular support for guerrilla conflicts tends to evaporate very

In Israel it is frequently stated that “only a political process can
vanquish terrorism.? But what happens to “political solutions? when Israel
confronts an organization like Hamas that is unwilling to compromise on its
rigid ideology of muqawama and armed struggle against Israel?

Yaakov Amidror, who is now the National Security adviser, wrote a study
showing that historically counterinsurgency wars have actually been won by
the West when certain conditions were fulfilled.

Amidror reviewed the U.S. victory in the Philippines in 1954, the British
victory in Malaya in 1952 and that in Oman in the 1970s as classic textbook
cases. More recently there was the counterinsurgency campaign waged by
General David Petraeus, who converted what looked like an American defeat in
Western Iraq to a victory against al-Qaida in 2007.

What emerges from all these theoretical writings is the obvious point that
wars against terrorism come to an end if they are won. But it is important
to remember that victory is not achieved in these kinds of wars with a
photograph of the enemy emerging from a bunker holding a white flag. In
Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, as Amidror wrote, the wave of suicide
bombings that the Palestinians employed against Israel came to an end. That
result alone constituted a victorious outcome.

In the Gaza conflict we just had [Operation Pillar of Defense], the stated
goal of military operations was to bring to an end the constant rocket fire
on Israel by Hamas and other organizations which receive sanctuary in the
territory Hamas controls.

If the cease-fire stabilizes in the weeks ahead, then the IDF will have
achieved its stated goal. But to preserve what it has accomplished, Israel
and the U.S. will have to put in place arrangements for the Philadelphi
Route to prevent Iran from replacing all the weaponry that Israel has
destroyed. Closing the outer perimeter to a territory where an insurgency
war is being waged has been proven time and again to be a prerequisite for
assuring stability in the long term.

Hamas escalated its rocket war on Israel in 2011 and especially in 2012,
largely because it felt that the regional balance of power had changed with
the outbreak of the Arab Spring and the rise of Islamist regimes, especially
in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists became the dominant
political force. It did not feel regionally isolated any longer. The Hamas
leadership assumed that it could attack Israel while hiding behind the
protective umbrella of President Muhammad Morsi of Egypt and Prime Minister
Erdoğan of Turkey.

Israel demonstrated that nothing would deter it from exercising its right to
self defense, even in the era of the Arab Spring. Hamas miscalculated.
Essentially, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt felt strongly that now was the
time for it to consolidate its control on power and not to get drawn into
the military adventurism of Hamas, despite the full ideological
identification of the former with the latter. But this change appears to be
tactical in nature.

Thus Egypt played a constructive role at the end of this round of conflict
in the Gaza Strip, but it remains to be seen whether this shift becomes
permanent or is only temporary. The ideological hostility of the Muslim
Brotherhood movement in Egypt against Israel remains stronger than ever and
was just demonstrated this week in statements made by its supreme guide,
Mohammed Badie. In any case, Israel will continue to have to rely on itself
for its security, backed by the national fortitude that the Israeli people
convincingly demonstrated all throughout the Gaza crisis.

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