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article imageOp-Ed: Did the Israelis learn lessons from Operation Cast Lead?

By Eliot Elwar     Nov 19, 2012 in World
Analysis of Operation Cast Lead and Operation Pillar of Cloud reveals lessons for the IDF. Will the IDF repeat the same tactical mistakes by prematurely ending the conflict?
From Global Security: “In response to a sharp increase in the number and frequency of rocket attacks into Israel prior to and following the expiration of Hamas' agreed period of "calm" on 19 December 2008, the Israeli Air Force launched Operation Cast Lead, consisting initially of airstrikes on 27 December against Hamas security installations, personnel, and other facilities in the Gaza Strip, followed on 3 January by ground operations. Hostilities between Israeli forces and Hamas fighters continued through 18 January, and the Israeli withdrawal of troops was completed on 21 January 2009.”
The IDF launched a ground incursion into Gaza with aims of removing terrorist groups from the region. The IDF sought to end the terrorist organizations capability to launch missile and mortar attacks on Israeli citizens along with the terrorists weapons smuggling operations into Gaza. This operation left many people in Gaza dead and many of them were civilians. There were numerous rocket and mortar attacks on Israel leaving a few civilians dead and many Israelis hurt. During this conflict, the IDF struck Hamas and terrorist infrastructure targets, while Hamas aimed at civilian population centers. Regrettably, the Gaza civilian casualties were largely because of Hamas firing from their own civilian population centers while using human shields during their ground operations. Due to Gaza’s civilian casualties, strong pressure was applied to Israel by the international community to terminate Operation Cast Lead.
Ehud Olmert's government then complied with the international community’s ceasefire demand after he was satisfied with the temporary tactical victory against Hamas forces. Despite Ehud Olmert's optimism, many Israelis view the cowering to international pressure as a defeat and a tactical mistake to terminate the conflict prematurely before the IDF could completely remove Hamas from Gaza. The tactical failure in Operation Cast Lead seems to have vindicated many Israeli perspectives now that another IDF grounds operation is required four years later. This time the IDF must finish the job and not cower to international pressure. If the IDF had finished the job four years earlier, many civilian casualties on both sides of this awful conflict could have been avoided today.
Recently, the IDF launched Operation Pillar of Cloud while exterminating Hamas strategic mastermind Ahmad Jabbari on 14 November 2012. This operation began after a week of many rocket attacks launched from Gaza against Israel's southern cities. Meanwhile, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) and IDF targeted many weapons facilities throughout Gaza with tactical missiles. Since then numerous rockets fell on Israel’s Southern and Central regions. The rockets even reached both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. A few Israelis died in the central town of Kiryat Malachi following a direct hit on an apartment building where several people were hurt, including children.
While many Gaza casualties were Hamas militants, unfortunately a few civilian casualties occurred, including one small child. Despite the fact that Hamas fighters launches their attacks from civilian populated centers in Gaza, the civilian casualties are surprisingly low. Many IDF reservists are currently being called-up to participate in another ground operations in Gaza.
Finally, as many defense analysts can see, the conflict has intensified since the Cast Lead operation because Hamas has recently launched nearly as many rockets as it did during the Cast Lead operation. This time the IDF must finish the job or else Israel will suffer terrorism continually for years to come.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about IDF, Operation cast lead, operation pillar of cloud, Operation Pillar of Defense, Hamas
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