Despite the chief of staff’s words which described the IDF as standing firmly in the face of the Gazan terror attack during the officer course graduation ceremony a few days ago, and despite the frustrated declarations of southern command officers in their media interviews regarding the intensifying of military response if the firing of rockets would not cease, the truth is sad and simple. Whilst the hands of the IDF are completely tied by the political leadership who is paralysed with fear, the Gazan terror organisations are making the most of Israel’s weakness and its determination to avoid at all cost an all-out confrontation. And the worst is – they are totally prepared, militarily and mentally, to the possibility that the cards would be shuffled and that Israel would eventually decide to go out for a wide military operation in the strip. In their view, they have very little to lose and a lot to gain. A heaven for the typical Middle Eastern gambler.
The leaderships of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in Gaza know too well that operation Cast Lead, which cost Israel a very heavy international political price, did not achieve any of its declared and undeclared aims, and all this four years ago, when Mubarak was still ruling Egypt with an iron fist, when the rocket fire power they possessed was much smaller, and when they did not yet have advanced anti-aircraft, anti-ship and anti-tank weapon systems. The strategic equation has changed so significantly in their favour that they are willing to take the minimal risk that someone in Israel would gather their wits and order a wide ranging military operation, against the massive gain of humiliating Israel and presenting it as a paper tiger which is not capable of translating its military might to political and strategic achievements.
The instability in Egypt will continue for a very long time. Only God knows what will happen there even tomorrow, when the results of the presidential elections will be published. We have already understood the Egyptian frame of mind, not just of the Islamic Brotherhood and their more extreme allies, but also of the men of the ruling military council. When Israel announced that Grad rockets were fired from within the Sinai towards Ramon and Uvda air force bases, a senior Egyptian military commander determined that this was a lie that was aimed at affecting the results of the elections in Egypt. If Israel will continue for long avoiding taking actions that will safeguard the lives of its citizens out of consideration to the Egyptian ‘sensitivities’, then it can close right now the security and defence stall and declare bankruptcy.