Risks of Gaza incursion immense

Operation Pillar of Defence has been expected for months following increasing rocket fire into Israel from Gaza, which a former Israeli army commander described this week as "holding hostage half the population". But the risks of a major operation in the changing Middle East landscape are enormous.

In Gaza, the emergence of militant organisations largely beyond the control of the ruling Hamas make the consequences of Israel's operation unpredictable. Hamas has felt the heat from these ultra-extremist groups, whose members claim that the ruling faction has abandoned military resistance against Israel for the comfort and privileges of a quasi-government.

These jihadist groups have close ties with militants in the Egyptian Sinai, just across Gaza's southern border, which Israel says are driven by an ideology akin to that of al-Qaeda. They are disinclined to listen to Egyptian government mediators, who have brokered a series of ceasefires following escalations of violence. A truce was brokered on Tuesday only to see it shattered a day later when Israel assassinated the top Hamas military commander, Ahmed al-Jabari.

"There are more jihadist groups in Gaza who do not abide by the rules of the game," said retired Brigadier-General Michael Herzog, a former chief of staff in the Israeli ministry of defence. "The Egyptians don't have the same leverage with the jihadists as they do with Hamas."

Threats to peace treaty
Some analysts in Israel have warned that if Hamas was to be toppled in a sustained military operation, such groups could fill a power vacuum, leaving Israel conceivably with an enemy worse than Hamas.

Egypt is another cause for concern. Before its revolution in the spring of 2011, Israel could count on the support of the country's deposed president Hosni Mubarak. But his successor, Mohammed Morsi, who has long ties with the Muslim Brotherhood – Hamas's parent organisation – is likely to vehemently oppose the latest Israeli operation. It could even threaten the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.

The offensive against Gaza may also ignite action from Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel's border with Lebanon has been relatively quiet since the war in 2006, but Israel repeatedly says that Hezbollah has thousands of Iranian-supplied rockets aimed at the Jewish state.

There will also be international condemnation if the Israeli military operation causes widespread civilian casualties in Gaza. In Operation Cast Lead, the 22-day offensive that began in December 2008, about 1400 people were killed in Gaza, including more than 300 children. Thousands of homes and schools were destroyed. Israeli airstrikes are now much more precisely targeted, but civilian casualties are inevitable.

Israel is also going to the polls in January. Most Israeli politicians swiftly endorsed Wednesday's operation, mindful that security is a major factor in all Israeli elections. – © Guardian News & Media 2012

Advertisting

Workers’ R60m ‘lost’ in banks scam

An asset manager, VBS Mutual Bank and a Namibian bank have put the retirement funds of 26 000 municipal workers in South Africa at risk

‘Judge President Hlophe tried to influence allocation of judges to...

Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath accuses Hlophe of attempting to influence her to allocate the case to judges he perceived as ‘favourably disposed’ to former president Jacob Zuma

SAA grounds flights due to low demand

SAA is working to accommodate customers on its sister airlines after it cancelled flights due to low demand

Lekwa municipality won’t answer questions about why children died in...

Three children are dead. More than a dozen homes have been gutted by fires in the past six months. And, as...
Advertising

Press Releases

MTN unveils TikTok bundles

Customised MTN TikTok data bundles are available to all prepaid customers on *136*2#.

Marketers need to reinvent themselves

Marketing is an exciting discipline, offering the perfect fit for individuals who are equally interested in business, human dynamics and strategic thinking. But the...

Upskill yourself to land your dream job in 2020

If you received admission to an IIE Higher Certificate qualification, once you have graduated, you can articulate to an IIE Diploma and then IIE Bachelor's degree at IIE Rosebank College.

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.

KZN teacher educators jet off to Columbia University

A group of academics were selected as participants of the programme focused on PhD completion, mobility, supervision capacity development and the generation of high-impact research.

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.