Israeli action in Gaza becomes a matter of when, not if

DAVID FURST/AFP/Getty Images This past weekend, 40 Qassam rockets fell on southern Israel. An eight-year old boy’s leg was amputated as a result, and there has been a marked increase in fightin’ words from Israel. Residents from the southern town of Sderot even staged mock rocket-attack drills on the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv ...

596513_080212_gaza2.jpg
596513_080212_gaza2.jpg

DAVID FURST/AFP/Getty Images

This past weekend, 40 Qassam rockets fell on southern Israel. An eight-year old boy's leg was amputated as a result, and there has been a marked increase in fightin' words from Israel. Residents from the southern town of Sderot even staged mock rocket-attack drills on the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to demonstrate what it's like to live under the constant threat of attack. Israelis are boiling over despite four retaliatory air attacks in Gaza Saturday night.

Sderot's mayor stepped up the pressure on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to act, saying,

DAVID FURST/AFP/Getty Images

This past weekend, 40 Qassam rockets fell on southern Israel. An eight-year old boy’s leg was amputated as a result, and there has been a marked increase in fightin’ words from Israel. Residents from the southern town of Sderot even staged mock rocket-attack drills on the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to demonstrate what it’s like to live under the constant threat of attack. Israelis are boiling over despite four retaliatory air attacks in Gaza Saturday night.

Sderot’s mayor stepped up the pressure on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to act, saying,

“It’s got to be a direct war — killing Mr. Haniya, killing his deputy, killing all his staff, his house, his government house.”

(That would be the first time a Seven Questions interview subject was assassinated.) But Olmert, who seems to have become more level-headed since his widely criticized attempt to neutralize Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006, responded, “[O]utrage is not a plan for action.”

Defense Minister Ehud Barak chimed in with an Israeli version of the Powell Doctrine: the need for clear goals, “a [political] exit plan,” and international support prior to military action.

The shadow of Winograd is apparent, yet it sounds like expanded action is likely against Gaza. According to Barak, it’ll happen only “when the time is right.”  Hamas leaders are reported to have cut back on public appearances, and it’s clear they are taking the threats on their lives seriously. They have even pulled out the Gilad Shalit card, saying the captured Israeli soldier will never return home if Hamas leaders are assassinated. Amid this web of rhetoric, the point, as always, is that the rockets need to stop falling for peace talks and hostage negotiations to move forward. If Hamas leaders can’t control the threat, Israel will have no choice but to do it for them.

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.