Flare-up stokes Israel policy debate

2012-03-12 22:38

Jerusalem - Israel's assassination of a top Gaza militant, which brought hundreds of rockets raining down on the Jewish state and the danger of further escalation, has left some wondering if its policy of targeted killings is still effective.

Since Friday, when an Israeli air strike killed Zuhair al-Qaisi, head of the Popular Resistance Committees, 23 Palestinians have been killed, most of them militants, prompting armed groups to fire more than 200 rockets at southern Israel, confining a million people to bomb shelters.

For some Israeli analysts, the all-too-familiar flare-up, sparked once again by Israel's targeting of a militant leader in Gaza, is proof that the targeted killing policy simply does not work.

"This method is very bad, especially in Gaza, and cannot achieve its goal," military analyst Reuven Pedatzur told AFP.

Not only do they fail to prevent militant acts, but they also endanger civilians on both sides who suffer the ensuing escalation, he said.

"It was clear to those who planned the killing that it would result in rockets, and a million people sitting in bomb shelters and safe rooms without being able to move," said Pedatzur, who directs the Centre for Strategic Dialogue at Netanya College.

Adopting a policy of taking out anyone planning an attack on Israel was limitless, he said. "If that's the case, you need to kill hundreds of people planning attacks - where do you draw the line?"

And such a policy did little to deter militants from further violent activity.

"It's obvious that when you kill one - another will come in his stead," he said. "Such killings only increase these groups' motivation to act against Israel."

Very effective

But in Gaza, where the fallout from such a policy has been keenly felt over the past 72 hours, experts say the targeted killings are working.

"The Israeli targeted assassinations against Palestinian resistance groups, especially against their leaders, is very effective," said Mukhaimer Abu Saada, professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in Gaza City.

"It is definitely a policy that aims at paralysing these groups and stopping them from carrying out future attacks against Israel," he told AFP.

In such groups, which tend to have a very centralised structure, taking out the top commander "definitely has a very effective and negative impact on their operational methods", he said.

And although the groups are capable of quickly replacing assassinated leaders, it still takes some time for them to become operational again, and replacing them sometimes creates internal problems, he added.

Avi Dichter, who directed Israel's Shin Bet internal security service during the second Palestinian intifada (2000-2005), believes that targeted killings are still "an extremely effective means".

"Targeted killings are not the preferred mode of operation, arrest for interrogation is," he told AFP. "We don't know how to interrogate dead people, only live ones."

But if an arrest was out of the question, as in the case of Qaisi, and the person was planning an attack, then the alternative was a targeted killing, said Dichter, who is now an MP for Israel's centre-right opposition party, Kadima.

The escalation which inevitably follows targeted killings is one of the elements taken into consideration by top officials involved in approving such operations, he said.

20 Israelis killed

"You need to be convinced, and to convince others, that the damage the individual will cause is severe enough to justify a targeted killing, even though it is known that it could cause an escalation," said Dichter, who was one of those tasked with approving such operations when he served as Shin Bet chief.

He believes the current rocket fire on southern Israel is a far softer blow than that meted out by militant groups during the second intifada, when an Israeli assassination of one of their leaders would often unleash deadly suicide bombings.

"As a result of the 15 000 rockets fired at Israel from Gaza in the past 10 years, 20 Israelis were killed," he said.

"But in just one suicide bombing, you could have a higher number of fatalities, not to mention wounded."

The assassinations also sent an important message to militant leaders, the former Shin Bet chief said.

"There is not an endless number of commanders and trained militants, and you can definitely hit their morale when you explain to them that there is no safe place for them," he said, stressing the destabilising effect of such operations.

"A cautious terror group is one that does less."

  • djmain1 - 2012-03-12 23:57

    The Israelis are the terrorists!

      Jaba - 2012-03-13 01:10

      you grievously over-estimate your terrorist friends in Gaza. They hide behind women and children. Some "resistance fighters." The sane world calls them terrorists

      TheJaydedKing - 2012-03-13 05:53

      Err. No.

      Philip - 2012-03-13 06:06

      So are your parents.....

      Fred - 2012-03-13 06:14

      And you

  • Jaba - 2012-03-13 01:07

    Hamas is a disgrace to humanity; suicide bombers and terrorists who target school buses, those who fire 240 missiles in a 72-hour span at civilian populations in Israel (not to mention 11,000 in just a few short years), et cetera, et cetera ad nauseum. And what kind of human scum pass out candies and sweets to celebrate terrorist attacks? For that matter, do you think anyone has forgotten the raucus celebrations in the Gaza Strip and West Bank on September 11, 2001? When Hamas stops acting like vicious hyenas and jackals, there will be no more deaths on either side of the border... and no "hateful" commentary on news24.

      Muhammed Bhyat - 2012-03-13 09:42

      @ Jaba: You have a tendency to 'like' your own comments.

  • Nasreen Kathrada Mangerah - 2012-03-13 03:34

    I would like to know what proof the Israelis have that this person was planning a terrorist attack? The truth is, like every other so-called killing of a terrorist, absolutely none! All that's happened is that 23 innocent victims are dead, and many more injured, for no reason whatsoever! The previous article was quite clear, Hamas wanted to settle things. It's the Israelis who are doing the damage! As for the comment on 9/11, please research what really happened. You will be shocked!

      Fred - 2012-03-13 04:16

      What do you think of the hundreds of thousands of civilians killed and maimed by suicide and car bombs intentionally placed in public places by Islamic extremists? What really happened on 9/11?

      Bobo - 2012-03-13 04:35

      @Nasreen : Control the media control the mind...Do not believe everything you read.

      TheJaydedKing - 2012-03-13 05:56

      Nasreen - You are incorrect. The first Israeli air strike only happened AFTER the first rockets had landed. They then struck killing the leader of a terrorist cell. THEN the rockets really started to fly, 350 rockets. The Hamas are the terrorists, they are causing their own pain.

      Anthony - 2012-03-14 05:30

      Patrick Your comments swing between ludicracy and being plain childish !! But you seem to be having fun, so why stop ??

  • William - 2012-03-13 07:26

    i dont knw what is wrong in israil everyday they kill more than 10 people and they dont have peace they just a terrorist

      customdesign - 2012-03-13 07:48

      Oh and it is ok if your neighbours fire rockets into your country. I know, maybe they should send them flowers in response lol So what do you think any country would do if they were fired on with over 10 000 rockets in the past 10 years? I think Israel is being very restrained in all of this. And your stats are emotional jibberish you seem to have sucked from your thumb- Israel does not kill more than 10 people every day, and when it does happen, those people generally deserve it.

  • Muhammed Bhyat - 2012-03-13 07:30

    Many terrorists and racists are in support of Apartheid-Israel and will post comments here in support of the terrorist regime. These people are an obstruction to peace and justice. I also predict that this comment will be disliked plenty fold more than it is liked. Interestingly those who decides to dislike this comment has the same narrow and racist mentality as those who used to say (some who still criminally maintain) that the African National Congress was a terrorist organization. We should not negotiate with terrorists and racists. Viva Palestine!

      customdesign - 2012-03-13 07:52

      Israel is not apartheid- it is Palestein that is apartheid- jews and christians are hated and ostrocised there. In Israel arabs share the same rights as Jews and so do christians. Arabs are part of the government and even are allowed to practice Islamic law. Everyone in Israel is allowed to vote- this apartheid thing you are speaking of does not exist there. Stop submitting to all the regurgitated drivel you are being indoctrinated with and think for yourself a bit.

      Muhammed Bhyat - 2012-03-13 08:53

      @ customdesign: You must be told that your view is a minority and rejected. It is a false view. It is a view that represents lies. It is the very same kind of lies which were said about the African National Congress (ANC). With the advantage of historical hindsight we all know that the ANC persevered through those malicious lied and now is the governing party in South Africa.

      Muhammed Bhyat - 2012-03-13 09:35

      You have to understand that Jews and Israel are not necessarily the one and same thing but there is unfortunately great areas of overlapping and confusion. However, this is up to the Jews themselves to sort out because they are the ones who constantly revise their religious beliefs for worldly gains and this is clear from the historical consensus of orthodox Jews that once upon a time God delegated the Children of Israel to be state protectorate of the Blessed Land of the Prophets under the conditions that they adhere by the legislated boundaries in the Torah. After the Jews repeatedly demonstrated nothing but persistent incompetence in adhering to the legislations which were prerequisite to the state protectorate, God banished them from the Blessed Land permanently until the advent of the Holy Messiah.\\r\\nAfter centuries of animosity amongst themselves and accumulating impatience with their disgraced, scattered and disunified state, and their inordinate greed for the share in the prophetic blessings of which they were forbidden from even coming near despite being descended from such sacred lineage, they forced themselves back to the Holy Land against the most fundamental and sacrosanct legislations of the Torah while disbelieving in and dishonouring, instead of responding appropriately to, the Messiah (peace be upon him) which their Lord sent to them and furthermore disbelieving in the Final Messenger (peace and blessings of God be upon him) which He sent afterwards to both the Jews and the Christians. Even more ridiculous, despite the general admittance among the Jews of Muhammad's Prophethood, they could not easily deny the Final Messenger just as they easily denied the Messiah because he reaffirmed the Torah far more emphatically and warned them of their superseded ancient covenant. So, for centuries from the beginning of their divine ordainment as God's chosen nation until reaching the level of God's banishment and condemned nation, the Jews out of vengeance against God Himself and unparalleled worldly greed conspired to settle the Divine Banishment from the Holy Land once and for all by forcing themselves back with genocidal carnage and repeated the ancient genocide of the pagan nations (like the Philistines and Canaanites) which is recorded in their historical battles against the modern Palestinians (who are undoubtedly not pagans this time) who never shared in the guilt of the Banishment nor deserved to be involved in the blasphemous war between the Jews and God Almighty. \\r\\nInstead of following and honouring the Covenants and Messengers of God, and returning to the Holy Land in obedience, humility and peaceful submission - the disbelieving Jews preferred to return in utter disobedience, arrogance and war against both God and His believing nation.\\r\\nIn reality, long before and up until just before the Unholy Establishment of Israel in 1948 there were humble Jews who lived and co-existed peacefully with the Muslim Palestinians and the Christians of Nazareth, and they were at most sad and sorrowful but definitely not jealous or envious of being banished from the Blessed Land as a nation. No-one ever told the Jews that they weren't allowed in the Prophetic Land except for God Himself unless they believed and followed the Abrahamic Covenant. Out of all people, no body will understand their feelings of spiritual connection with the Blessed Land more than the Muslims and Christians themselves who share the same spiritual bond. Now they are the ones telling us that Muslims and the whole world don't want them in Biblical Israel (modern day Palestine) whereas they say this by way of disbelief, blasphemy and lie against the Torah and cover-up of their ancient enmity against the Divine. \\r\\nThe Jews need to liberate themselves from disbelief and return to following the Laws of the Torah, the Gospel and all revelations from Allah; otherwise, they will not cease to show enmity against the rightful inheritors of the Blessed Land and the Prophets.\\r\\nAnd the Zionists merely deceive themselves into believing (or more like pretending) that they can take the place of God's nation, legislations and rewrite the Abrahamic Covenant because they successfully opposed the Divine Banishment and broke the Jews into different opinions of what constitutes blasphemy (kufr) and irdat-al-uloohiyyah (the Divine Will) concerning their case.

      Dannys - 2012-03-13 09:58

      I'll make reference to your comment about it being 'for the Jews to sort out' re the overlapping and confusion between Israelis and Jews. Similarly, it is for the Muslims to sort out re the confusion between ordinary man in the street and terrorist. I have yet to see this occur because the amount of conflict in the world today that involves Muslims is a majority and lends more weight to the notion that Muslims are often the aggressor (or that Muslim religion is used as an excuse)

      Muhammed Bhyat - 2012-03-13 10:09

      @ Dannys: Your conclusions are wrong. You are a typical example of a victim to main stream media. You have been brain-washed. Your indoctrination is a symptom of something much more sinister. I invite your towards a comprehensive study of Islam. You need to be open minded. When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.

      Jaba - 2012-03-13 11:07

      Muhammed you call Israel an Apartheid state while Israel is a Democratic state (under constant threat) all the while the real apartheid is in the Arab world! If you would like i can send you a picture of roads in Saudi that reads Muslims keep right, non Muslims left - THAT IS APARTHEID! There is no place in the world, that discrimination and racism is as institutionalized as in the Arab world, against Christians, Jews, Hindu's, Buddhists, Women Gays and other smaller minorities.

      Jaba - 2012-03-13 11:14

      Muhammed you can’t have Genocide or ethnic cleansing if the Palestinians are not dying in mass like the Holocaust, Rwanda, or Congo... or even the way Kadafi or Syria were/are killing their own. If anything Israel has always wanted and voted for peace. Palestinians attacks, deaths and their use of human shields is a war crime done by Hamas! You want to see an area cleansed then where did all the Christians and Jews that lived in the Arab world go? Why are Gays disappearing in Iran and Saudi… why are women stoned for being raped in this world you seem to represent? Israel has a 20% Muslim population who earn a better living then any of their Arab neighbors... who vote and live anywhere in Israel... if anything your comment of human rights atrocities are more true to Israel's neighbours rather than Israel.

      Dannys - 2012-03-13 12:01

      @ Muhammed - thanks. Your ridiculous writings are a pro-Palestinian reader's wet dream. Facts don't lie - Nigeria:Fact, Sudan:Fact, Indonesia:Fact, Middle East:Fact, Belgium (today):Fact, Egypt:Fact...shall we continue? The common thread is all too apparent. I also find it so ironic that, in general, for all the hatred towards the West from Muslims, the uprisings seemed to happen in Muslim governed states. And for all the hatred towards the West from Muslims, your guys seem to make a real effort to relocate into the UK, France, Germany, US etc. Ironic, hypocritical - take your pick

      Muhammed Bhyat - 2012-03-13 13:32

      @ Jaba: Please continue to entertain me. If I really want to waste my time I can categorically discredit every point that you have made with facts. But because you reject truth, facts hold no value in your kangaroo court. Your racist rhetoric is resonant of those people who opposed Apartheid in South Africa. You will share the same fate as them. @ Danny: Again you demonstrate victim mentality. The Arab spring was an uprising against puppet governments - governments who were puppets of the West. Many not even headed by true Muslims. (They were sell-outs and hypocrites.) So your 'common thread' is common only in your mind with misconstrued facts. Another important point you raise is that of relocation - we relocate primarily to spread Islam. And no wonder Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. This fact, I know, really perturbes you. But you cannot deny facts, now can you?

      Dannys - 2012-03-13 13:44

      @ Muhammed - I didn't know that Syria was a puppet of the West. Or Libya for that matter. Your 'theory' (because that's really all it is) is flawed. Conspiracy theorists, aren't you? And common thread - you're worse than the Crusaders

      Muhammed Bhyat - 2012-03-13 15:29

      @ Dannys: Your entertainment has derailed from the topic. It is a symptom of your desperation to impress upon me your racist ideologies. A wrong and tainted ideology. You have proven to be heedless and contumacious. No matter what I say you will oppose it with arrogance and hate. This is who you are. There is no benefit of us communicating any further. Your fate it written. This is where I have to sadly end this discussion with you.

      Dannys - 2012-03-13 16:01

      @Mo - haha, now I'm a racist. I state fact - you state opinion. You are the end result of what happens when you believe your own hype. Cheers

      Dannys - 2012-03-13 16:02

      ps great use of the English language by the way. I'm impressed by your style of wording, even if they do lack substance.

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