CATEGORY: WarSecurity

Leveraging Operation Pillar of Defense into an attack on Iran

To the Netanyahu administration, attacking Gaza may be killing two birds with one stone.

The Netanyahu administration stands poised to use Iran’s real or imagined influence over Hamas, as well as Iron Dome’s effectiveness, as justification for attacking Iran.

“At first glance,” writes Haaretz columnist Amir Oren, “Operation Pillar of Defense seems to be aimed at the Palestinian arena, but in reality it is geared toward Iranian hostility against Israel.” In fact

… the dark cloud in the Gaza skies might serve as an alternative, or preface to, an Iran operation. … Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have not given up the dream of carrying out a major operation in Iran. …

Hamas often uses Iranian missiles, but, writes Oren

So as not to leave a shred of doubt, [an] IDF Spokesman emphasized that “the Gaza Strip has become Iran’s frontline base.”

In fact, Hamas is considered closer these days to Egypt, Turkey, and Qatar than Iran. Regardless

… the intelligence assessment of casualties likely to be sustained on the home front during an operation in Iran, based on the assumption that the Arrow antimissile system is used (although it has yet to demonstrate actual interception capabilities ) [and will] duplicate the performance of the Iron Dome system. … constitute calculations in favor of an Iranian operation. … Should Operation Pillar of Defense [succeed,] the political leadership, buoyed by strong performances from the intelligence and other branches, [may] try to extrapolate from this operation and transpose it to other places.

In other words, if the Netanyahu administration succeeds in sending the message that Hamas’s will is Iran’s command, and that Israel’s missile defense will afford it protection from Iran’s retaliation, it may feel it then has license to attack Iran.

Cross-posted from the Foreign Policy in Focus blog Focal Points.

Jabari assassination brought Hamas negotiations to premature end

Israeli last to know that his negotiations with Ahmed Jabari were as doomed as the man.

In an oped in the New York Times, Gershon Baskin, who negotiated with Hamas for the release of Gilad Shalit, publicly revealed how the Netanyahu administration scuttled Israel’s most recent negotiations with Hamas.

On the morning that he was killed, Mr. Jabari received a draft proposal for an extended cease-fire with Israel, including mechanisms that would verify intentions and ensure compliance. This draft was agreed upon by me and Hamas’s deputy foreign minister, Mr. Hamad, when we met last week in Egypt.

Thus does Baskin

… believe that Israel made a grave and irresponsible strategic error by deciding to kill Mr. Jabari. No, Mr. Jabari was not a man of peace; he didn’t believe in peace with Israel and refused to have any direct contact with Israeli leaders and even nonofficials like me.

But

… Passing messages between the two sides, I was able to learn firsthand that Mr. Jabari wasn’t just interested in a long-term cease-fire; he was also the person responsible for enforcing previous cease-fire understandings brokered by the Egyptian intelligence agency. Mr. Jabari enforced those cease-fires only after confirming that Israel was prepared to stop its attacks on Gaza. The goal was to move beyond the patterns of the past.

Though Gershon Baskin doesn’t personally reproach the Netanyahu administration for attacking during negotiations, it certainly seems like he had the rug pulled out from under him.

Cross-posted from the Foreign Policy in Focus blog Focal Points.