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Is Gaza Becoming Another Lebanon? (JCPA) JERUSALEM CENTER FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS) Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, Director of Policy and Political-Military Affairs, Israel Ministry of Defense Vol. 6, No. 18 - 21 January 2007)Source: http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=111&FID=283&PID=0&IID=1489&TTL=Is_Gaza_Becoming_Another_Lebanon? JCPA-Jerusalem Center Public Affairs JCPA-Jerusalem Center Public Affairs Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
  • The Iranians have a clear goal to combine their long-range missiles with their developing nuclear technology. We are living in the final years before Iran goes nuclear. Listen carefully to Ahmadinejad. He is not insane. He embodies very accurately the nature of the Iranian regime and he is gaining popularity among Muslims.

  • Iran wants to establish an axis to compete against the moderate Sunni Arab countries, and Israel is in the center of the conflict. To weaken the vicious axis sponsored by Iran, Israel must join in an unofficial alliance with the Sunni Arab world.

  • All the rockets in the hands of Hizbullah are an integral part of a whole system that enables Iran to attack Israel from Lebanon without taking responsibility. The Iranians are not happy with what happened in Lebanon because Israel attacked the infrastructure they had built before they were ready.

  • Syria is another regional actor supporting terror in Hamastan and Hizbullahstan. The headquarters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad are in Damascus, and all Iranian assistance to rebuild Hizbullah crosses Syrian territory. In addition, Syria directly supported Hizbullah in Lebanon. Syrian rockets from the Syrian army were given to Hizbullah to use to attack Israel.

  • Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, sitting in Damascus where he is supported by Iran and Syria, controls the military wing of Hamas and is more powerful than PA Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh. Mashaal is responsible for the money, for the policy of terror, and he holds many cards relating to Israel´s abducted soldier in Gaza.

    The Iranian Connection

    To understand the situation in Gaza, we must first focus on Iran. The issue of Iran as a potential strategic threat on the horizon was first raised back in the 1990s. At that time, however, there were illusions about then-Iranian President Khatami. Now there are no more illusions because the current Iranian president, Ahmadinejad, is so clear about his objectives. The Iranians have a clear goal to combine their long-range missiles with their developing nuclear technology.

    From Israel´s point of view, Iran has the potential of becoming the existential threat it is frequently declared to be. We are living in the final years before Iran goes nuclear. Listen carefully to Ahmadinejad. He is not insane. He embodies very accurately the nature of the Iranian regime and he is gaining popularity among Muslims. We have to take him seriously because of the developing capability behind his policy.

    Iran wants to establish an axis to compete against the moderate Sunni Arab countries, and Israel is in the center of the conflict. Iran created Hizbullahstan to Israel´s north, which is more powerful than the Lebanese Republic in which it is located. To Israel´s south is another entity, Sunni Hamastan. In Iraq, the Shiites and Sunnis are eating each other, but both are cooperating against Israel, where they want to eat us together.

    One danger of Hamastan and Hizbullahstan is that they serve as an example, an inspiration for the whole Muslim world. What if they succeed? Can you imagine what the Middle East would be like for Israel without the peace with Egypt and Jordan, without the leadership of President Mubarak and King Abdallah? They are both pillars of a sane, stable Middle East. Even states like Saudi Arabia understand that Iran is the main threat to their stability, their existence, and to the whole area.

    The moment Iran achieves nuclear capability, it will inspire terror, instability, and efforts to take over the Gulf States. Iran has a dream to become a regional superpower. To weaken the vicious axis sponsored by Iran, Israel must join in an unofficial alliance with the Sunni Arab world.

    After the War in Lebanon

    The war in Lebanon, with all its problems, has resulted in some at least temporary achievements. Hizbullahstan is weaker because Israel destroyed its bunkers along the border, as well as the Iranian rocket deployment that cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Its aim was to cover the Galilee with 10,000 rockets, as well as longer-range rockets that could reach Tel Aviv.

    Hizbullah is now determined to destroy the Lebanese government, to reestablish Hizbullahstan, to rebuild its military and terrorist infrastructures, and to support Palestinian terror and destabilize the Palestinian entity.

    Furthermore, all the rockets that are in the hands of Hizbullah are an integral part of a whole system that enables Iran to attack Israel from Lebanon without taking responsibility. I think that the Iranians are not happy with what happened in Lebanon because Israel attacked the infrastructure they had built before they were ready.

    The Role of Syria

    Syria is another regional actor supporting terror in Hamastan and Hizbullahstan. The headquarters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad are in Damascus, and all Iranian assistance to rebuild Hizbullah crosses Syrian territory. In addition, Syria directly supported Hizbullah in Lebanon. Syrian rockets from the Syrian army were given to Hizbullah to use to attack Israel.

    The Syrian army lacks any intention to attack Israel for the time being, though Israel was on alert during the war in Lebanon. Syrian President Assad may not be in favor of the State of Israel, but if we analyze all the intelligence material, we don´t find any hint that he´s going to attack.

    However, Assad is determined to return to Lebanon and to restore Syrian influence on the Lebanese government and its policies. Syria is not going to recognize Lebanon as an independent state. This is traditional Syrian policy and Assad is returning to this policy.

    The Palestinian Arena

    While the most important threat to the future of this region is Iran. Gaza and the West Bank belong to the same strategic picture. In the Palestinian arena, Mahmoud Abbas is the only one who embodies some hope for coexistence with Israel, while Hamastan is a total contradiction of the perception of peace. The weapons being smuggled into Gaza can be used to destabilize the Abbas´ regime as well as against Israel.

    Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, sitting in Damascus where he is supported by Iran and Syria, controls the military wing of Hamas and is more powerful than PA Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh. Mashaal is responsible for the money, for the policy of terror, and he holds many cards relating to Israel´s abducted soldier in Gaza. Even if he wanted to be more moderate, Mashaal receives orders from Iran and Syria. So it is very difficult to come to any agreement that will ease the life of the Palestinians or pave the way to peace.

    - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad is Director of Policy and Political- Military Affairs at the Israel Ministry of Defense. Gen. Gilad has also served as the Defense Ministry´s Coordinator for the Administered Territories, Director of the Research Division of the IDF´s Intelligence Branch, and as the IDF Spokesman. This Jerusalem Issue Brief is based on his presentation at the Institute for Contemporary Affairs in Jerusalem on November 13, 2006. (Copyright © 2007 JCPA. 01/21/07)


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