The former head of Israel's internal security service 'Shabak', Yuval Diskin, has said that Israel needs a strategic solution for the current crisis that would include deep penetration into the populated area of Gaza while seeking a long term settlement.
In an article published on Tuesday in Yedioth Ahronoth, Diskin said that the battle with Hamas will not end soon without a political manoeuvre in addition to the ground war that is being executed by the Israeli army. Even if a ceasefire is reached in the next few days, he added, this will be an expression of the lack of a real decisive military outcome.
He went on to say: "It is obvious that Israel possesses the military might that would enable it to outlast Hamas; there is no room for comparison between the two sides. The internal front is willing to pay the price until the problem of the long term missiles is resolved. The iron dome is doing quite well and is helping in prolonging the ability of the masses to remain steadfast. The process of destroying the offensive tunnels is very necessary. Both political and security levels are behaving as cautiously as necessitated by the combat in an extremely complex field."
He said: "The more important problem is that Hamas has nothing left to lose because it is already in a very bad situation. It has a severe crisis with Egypt and has no real allies apart from Qatar and Turkey, which are searching in vain for something to associate them with the events. Hamas and Gaza's economic situation is at its worst. It is unable to pay salaries to its men and to workers in the strip. The feeling of isolation and besiegement is deeper than ever before. What is still harder is that the reconciliation process, which from Hamas point view was a strategic action aimed at improving its conditions and acquiring legitimacy, has now failed."
Diskin pointed out that "during the last year Hamas became increasingly desperate and is willing to pay a heavy price in order to set on fire, once more, the strategic playing cards. Israel found itself being drawn into a crisis for which Hamas prepared itself well over the past few years from a military perspective. It is now exploiting rather harshly all the weak points of the Strip in order to bring down the siege and international isolation and in order also to achieve an important gain within the internal Palestinian arena".
He went on to say: "The government of Israel has the option of continuing and even deeming the ground operation right into the populated areas where the Hamas leaders are hiding and where the rocket launchers are hidden underground. Such effective military pressure will considerably reduce, and even end, the firing of rockets and evolve for the state of Israel a number of options to resolve the crisis ranging between full occupation and cleansing of the Strip and stopping the operation when Hamas feels the pressure on it and agrees to accept the conditions proposed to it."
He added: "We can understand the government's lack of enthusiasm for deepening the operation into densely populated areas inside the Strip. This would be a first class military, humanitarian and political challenge. And it will have a very painful human cost. Nevertheless, I believe that real gains can be made in this operation. Even if it were to encounter fierce resistance pockets in some places, in my opinion, the ability of Hamas' military arm to remain steadfast in direct confrontation with the Israeli army is a lot less than they tend to believe. The problem is that without this operation, we shall end up with an extremely problematic status quo, which means a mutual bloodshed without the ability to resolve decisively."
According to the writer, the public in Israel wants, before anything else, a stable and long term ceasefire with a strategic solution to the missile threat and the threat of the offensive tunnels as well as for the threat of extreme terrorism in the Gaza Strip.
He said: "Israel must achieve a very significant gain before the onset of complications such as the evolution of other fronts in the West Bank and the staging of protest rallies by Israel's Arab citizens or even the eruption of the northern front. No less serious than all of this would be the rapid erosion of the international mandate the state of Israel enjoys at the moment."
The writer noted that "should Hamas reject the political initiatives and continue to insist on military confrontation, Israel should appear determined to continue all the way until it occupies the Strip fully and bring down the Hamas regime. There would be no real victors in this scenario. The fighting in this case will leave many dead on both sides. Eventually, the Hamas regime will fall and the state of Israel may need to stay there for a year or two until it is able to cleanse the region from terrorist elements and from the many infrastructures of terrorism that were built there."
Diskin concluded by saying that "should we need to do this we might as well begin to think now too about scenarios of the political conclusion to this process. Israel should, therefore, stop behaving like an ostrich and adopting strategic obscurity. It should bravely define its borders and come up with an honest peace plan consistent with the basic interest of acquiring recognised and fixed borders and of keeping Israel Jewish and democratic. Israel should also use an iron fist in dealing with terrorism and should extend the other hand for a political settlement."