Three years ago when I built my new home in Moshav Neve Ilan, in the heart of Israel, I included a safe room, as required by Israeli law. I have to admit that I never thought that this room would ever be used. 24 hours ago I was proven wrong. When the siren sounded, my wife and I, along with our three sons ran into that safe room!!!
The rocket fire of the past several days has created real national unity between central Israel and the periphery. Residents of the greater Tel Aviv area are learning what the Color Red siren means and understanding the lives of the men, women, and children who have heard the rise and fall of sirens for years. The entire nation of Israel is full of admiration for the stalwartness and determination of residents of the south, but the time has come to tell the enemies of the state "No more!" Hamas will understand what it means when the government of Israel decides to stop the constant, growing danger that has gathered on its southern border.
Deterrence is needed not only against Hamas, but also against the country's enemies, farther way, waiting to see how Israel responds when attacked.
Israel intensified the operation in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, in an attempt to make Hamas blink first and seek a cease-fire. As part of that plan, the Israel Defense Forces doubled the number of targets attacked, focusing on the homes of Hamas' military wing leaders in Gaza, Khan Yunis? and Rafah.
The objective is clear -- to upset the balance in a way that would see the terrorists' own families pressure them, and to make them fear that they will lose all they hold dear.
The IDF and Shin Bet security agency claim that this modus operandi is effective and deterring; but on the other hand, the scope of Hamas' operation proves that it is determined to fight and that it is following a specific plan of attack, which includes scaled rocket fire on a variety of targets aimed at including more and more cities in the cycle of violence.
Tel Aviv and Jerusalem became part of that cycle on Tuesday, and Wednesday saw Zichron Yaakov,Yerocham and Dimona come under fire as well, with the attack targeting the latter clearly aimed at the Negev Nuclear Research Center.
There is no doubt that Hamas seeks to establish its own deterrence, as well as inflict actual harm with its fire.
The true champion of Operation Protective Edge is Iron Dome. It is the bunker preventing enemy rockets from reaching central Israel, and it has significantly reduced public anxiety. The residents of the greater Tel Aviv area have adapted to the sounds of Iron Dome intercepting rockets, and are going about their daily routine.
Iron Dome has afforded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz the necessary leeway to opt for a slow-paced, controversial gambit: they were trying to withstand considerable rocket fire from the Gaza Strip without repeating Operation Pillar of Defense. It was only after it was made clear that Hamas was interested in more than merely flexing its muscles that Israel went on the offensive.
Operations like these see a dynamic list of objectives. Israel had set out to rescue three of its sons, who were murdered in cold blood, and it re-arrested dozens of terrorists, forcing Hamas to change its objectives and demand their release. Once denied, Hamas proceeded to launch a massive rocket attack, and the Israel Defense Forces revised its operational levels to ones that everyone, it seems, sought to avoid.
The system also affords the IDF the leeway necessary to operate knowing there are no casualties on the home front.
As of Wednesday, is seems like that is not Israel's intention. The offensive waged against Hamas exceeds what is reflected in media reports, and the possibility of a ground incursion is more viable than ever, but the political and military decision-makers have no intention of being dragged into a dangerous and bloody adventure in Gaza.
The objective remains as it was at the beginning of Operation Protective Edge -- to reach a point where calm is restored to southern Israel, and to ensure that Hamas is deterred enough to avoid breaching the lull for a very long time.
Right now, however, the end of this operation is nowhere in sight.
Egypt -- the go-to mediator -- is preoccupied with internal problems and is only marginally invested in brokering a cease-fire. The fact that Hamas has set considerable demands, which include opening the Rafah crossing, having the Palestinian Authority transfer wages' funds, and the release of operatives who were pardoned as part of the Shalit deal and recently re-arrested as part of Operation Brother's Keeper, makes reaching a cease-fire deal nearly impossible at this time.
The escalation, it seems, will continue for at least a few more days.
Yossi Tanuri | Director General | Jewish Federations of Canada - UIA