Senior Israeli army officers on Sunday worried that the current response to escalating missile attacks from Gaza is tipping the balance in favor of Hamas and its terrorist allies.
Speaking to Israel’s Ynet news portal, the officers noted that following previous escalations, Israel had responded with overwhelming force, creating a deterrence against further attacks for a period of time.
Following Israel’s invasion of Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009 “a very clear equation was created whereby the IDF responds disproportionately to any violation of the state of calm,” said one officer. “Ever so often there were attempts to test us but a harsh response together with deterrence achieved by the operation had sent the message until the next time.”
But Israel’s military response to the Gaza rocket and mortar barrage that began last week and saw medium-range missiles hit cities near Tel Aviv has been significantly more tempered.
On top of that, the government has sought to alleviate public fears by deploying the still-experimental Iron Dome anti-missile system, which even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned cannot and will not stop all Palestinian missiles from hitting Israeli cities.
In short, instead of responding to force with even greater force, Israel this time around has responded to force by putting up a shield.
The officers who spoke out believe this is a mistake, as the terrorists are constantly testing Israel’s resolve, and if they believe Israel is becoming weak, their next attack will be even bigger.
Speaking in Beersheva on Sunday, Knesset Member Shaul Mofaz, current chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said Israel should return to its policy of assassinating leading terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
“Israel can not hide behind the Iron Domedefense system while in Gaza life goes on,” said Mofaz. “We must maintain our ability to attack and preserve the IDF’s role as a deterrent. Without a deterrent, the Palestinian organizations are the ones that will dictate the agenda.”