Bam Stirs Fears In Israel

by Ralph Peters [author, novelist]

As world leaders and international organizations rush to rescue Hamas, Israel faces complex bat tlefield challenges – while fearing a stab in the back from the incoming Obama administration.

Israel’s leaders are asking themselves two questions: Is the cost of sending sufficient ground forces into Gaza just too high? And, upon his inauguration on Jan. 20, will President Obama undercut Israel’s counterterror offensive before its goals have been reached?




Israel can deal with self-aggrandizing busybodies, such as French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose irresponsible attempts to force a cease-fire upon Israel benefit only Hamas. (Carla, can’t you give that guy something to do?) But Israel would be hard pressed to fight on without American support.

As government leaders and generals in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv weigh the question of whether or not to send tanks into Gaza’s streets, they hear the clock ticking. A major ground incursion would take time. Would Israel Defense Forces soldiers find themselves fighting on political quicksand?

Despite the frankly anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish reporting of this conflict in the global media, Israel’s military performance not only has been technically superb, but has been as humane as possible under such difficult circumstances.

From earlier briefings in Israel, I know the IDF takes an almost absurd degree of care in its targeting. The questioning doesn’t stop with “Is that the right building?” it then asks, “What should be our angle of attack to ensure any rubble falls into the street, not atop the primary school next door?” (Hamas consistently embeds terror facilities among innocent civilians.)

Hitting a terrorist hideout in an apartment building, for example, an F-16 would be armed with the smallest warhead that could do the job. If the terrorists are tucked into rooms on the fourth floor, targeting officers evaluate which window the guided missile should go through to kill the terrorists, while minimizing harm to civilians living below.

Any military veteran can tell that the Israelis are taking enormous care to spare civilians. Given the number of airstrikes thus far and the hundreds of tons of bombs dropped, it remains remarkable that so few innocents have been injured in such a dense urban environment.

But, as this column has stressed for years, fighting terrorists effectively means going in on the ground – and sooner is better than later. You can’t impress fanatics into surrendering. You have to kill them. Nothing else works.

Let me repeat that: You have to kill fanatics. Nothing else works.

Ordinarily, Israeli leaders would only need to ponder battlefield costs and counter international pro-terror propaganda. But the rise of President-elect Obama complicates matters gravely.

Even the timing of Israel’s strike at Hamas has been driven, at least in part, by the coming power transfer in Washington. The immediate trigger was the hundreds of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel after the terrorists refused to renew an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire, but Israel’s leaders also counted on steadfast support from the Bush administration in its final days.

Obama’s an unknown quantity, though. While hysterical claims that he’ll be pro-Islamist from start to finish are absurd, even minor shifts away from supporting Israel’s struggle against terrorists could have catastrophic consequences. And Israel’s vaunted intelligence services can’t tell their superiors what Obama will do, since few (if any) of the president-elect’s supporters know what he intends to do.

In fact, the president-elect may not know himself. He’s a babe in the woods, and the woods are full of wolves. Fighting political rivals doesn’t prepare you for fighting terrorist fanatics.

For now, Israel must worry that a major ground offensive against Hamas would be halted halfway by the withdrawal of US support, both diplomatic and practical. The IDF even counts on us to replenish reserve stocks of the guided weapons that minimize civilian casual ties or penetrate tunnels and bunkers. Israel could find that it had paid a grim price in the blood of its sons and daughters, only to be robbed of the chance to hand Hamas a meaningful defeat.

As for our president-elect, his all-too-coy insistence that “we have only one president at a time” has been selective from the start. Glad to pontificate on stimulus packages and union benefits, Obama has used the one-president mantra to avoid taking stands on difficult issues that bedevil or bewilder him.

Our president-elect needed to make a clear, prompt statement in support of Israel. He didn’t. If I were an Israeli leader, I’d be worried, too.

Obama’s notorious for avoiding firm stands that might alienate any important constituency. But you can’t have it both ways in the Middle East. He needs to stand up in support of Israel. Now.

Israeli soldiers should not have to go into battle worrying about an American bullet in the back. ExileStreet

courtesy NY Post / copyright 2008 NY Post

Ralph Peters’ latest book is “Looking For Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World.”

Ralph Peters is a retired Army officer and the author of 19 books, as well as of hundreds of essays and articles, written both under his own name and as Owen Parry. He is a frequent columnist for the New York Post and other publications.

One Response to “Bam Stirs Fears In Israel”

  1. Stan Says:

    One blogger has analysed Obama’s declaration in support for Isreal in the town of Sderot. Obama supports Palestine instead of Isreal. Obama is a guy filled with wisdom from within but went into Isreal and indrectly told them the truth about the reality. See thwe post here

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