Mr. Sharon’s strong words have caused wincing both in Israel and abroad, as international pressure grows for a truce to end the fighting. But there is a strong strain of thought in Israel that sees military deterrence as the pillar of any long-term strategy. Some compare Gaza militant groups to weeds, arguing that Israel’s military needs to “mow the lawn” every few years to keep the situation under control.
“I do think that their conclusion is that once every several years, we must launch a preventive operation and destroy some of the Hamas government’s [military] power, in particular the long-range missiles,” says political scientist Menachem Klein of Bar Ilan University. “That’s the strategy.”
But even many of those who say that Israel has no other choice than to rely on military action acknowledge that brute force alone will not guarantee Israel’s security, given the hatred of Israel that is cultivated in Gaza schools and society – and heightened, some argue, by operations like Pillar of Defense.
“We see indoctrination as the key issue,” said Yossi Kuperwasser, director general of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs. “It’s got to be something really profound that stops it.”
“We have all kinds of contingency planning,” he said, speaking at a briefing last month before Operation Pillar of Defense began. “If worst comes to worst, we can take a much wider operation in Gaza … But this is not going to really solve the problem.”