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Military operation in West Bank threatens Netanyahu's career

Through its extensive military operations against Hamas, Israel aims to build a wedge between Fatah and the Islamic resistance movement after the two reconciled their differences and formed a unity government, an Israeli analyst said today.

As the Israeli army operation enters its seventh day, following the kidnapping of three settlers, there is no end in sight as no leads have been found.

Israel's Haaretz newspaper's military correspondent and defence analyst Amos Harel said in an article published today, that the military campaign against Hamas has a political context.

The Israeli right, the political partner of Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in the coalition government slammed the Shalit prisoners exchange deal as the greatest setback during Netanyahu rule when 1,027 Palestinian prisoners were released in exchange of the captive soldier Gilad Shalit.

The deal continues to be used against Netanyahu where the extremist right-wing Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett forced Netanyahu to support a bill to prevent granting amnesty to prisoners, to prevent future prisoners exchange deals amid intense opposition from the Israeli security services.

Harel said: "The abduction poses a great political risk for Netanyahu. In addition to the sympathy for the youths' families, the right wing and settlers feel great rage. The prime minister must ride this tiger if he doesn't want to be caught in its fangs."

Harel said: "Punishing Hamas enables the Israeli public, most of which is in favour of a military strike on Hamas, to release steam. In days like these, even usually restrained politicians tend to rant and rave."

The kidnapping, according to Harel, "also completely turned around the political agenda, in which Netanyahu had been on the defensive in the midst of a crisis in Likud, along with his failed attempts to influence the election of the new president."

On the ground, he noted: "As time goes by and the abducted youths are not found, the frustration rises. The IDF is powerful and has unusual capabilities. When the result is not achieved, however, armies tend to look for other ways to express their ability."

Harel believed "the emphasis on striking the 'civilian infrastructure' looks like an exhibition. In the army too there must be officers who are beginning to question the benefit of such acts. In the security cabinet discussions, the attorney general is taking a moderate, sceptical approach in a bid to restrict reckless moves.

"Israel had better remember that when an operation continues, things tend to get complicated and could lead to trouble – the loss of soldiers, or the killing of Palestinian civilians. Israel is trying to impose a new order in the West Bank, which is not directly associated with the abduction," Harel warned.


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