(JNS) Israel’s taking out of key Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists on Tuesday was designed to bolster Israeli deterrence, which has recently been eroded. It is also aimed at sending a clear message to Israel’s enemies that despite the domestic strife, Israel acts with unity and resolve when it comes to defending itself.
While the Israeli operation was directed against PIJ, with the hope that Hamas sits this one out, it’s hard to see Gaza’s rulers sitting idly by in light of the damage and the casualties.
It is safe to say that in the hours following the Israeli strike, the two organizations held high-level talks to coordinate the response, perhaps scheduled for right after the mass funerals—once the senior leaders have had a chance to go into hiding.
As far as Israel is concerned, the main objectives were met in the initial hours of the operation. Now it must shift its focus to two additional goals. The first is to make sure the terrorists’ response from Gaza won’t offset Israel’s gains, and the second is to use the flare-up to further strike the terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip.
How should Israel act? We must:
1. Maximize our defense so that the death count is minimal. Beyond simply saving lives, this will deny the enemy success and make sure that when the operation is over, they remain beaten down and without accomplishments to point to.
2. Focus on PIJ, while preparing for Hamas to enter the fighting. Hamas should think twice before it joins the fray; if Israel picks up signals it is about to do so, it must take a proactive stance by targeting its leaders and facilities.
3. Severely undermine the capabilities of the adversaries and their commanders. To ensure a quick end to the fighting, Israel must employ its full force right at the start. Incrementalism will only lead to this operation dragging on more than necessary.
4. Halt the delivery of goods and other shipments to the Gaza Strip from Israel and Egypt (except essential humanitarian supplies) to pressure Hamas and PIJ.
5. Focus our fire on the southern front even as we keep a watchful and threatening eye on the north. It is safe to assume that Hamas will try to send Israel a response from the north, in an attempt to open a second front and bog it down in a clash with Hezbollah.
6. Staying alert and acting quickly when violent nationalist incidents take place within Israel. Israel must not allow a “domestic front” to emerge against the backdrop of this conflagration or due to the incitement surrounding Nakba Day (the “Catastrophe Day” marked by Arabs on the Gregorian date of Israel’s founding, May 15), or Jerusalem Day next week.
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