Benjamin Netanyahu has been criticised in some quarters for not ordering a land invasion of the Gaza strip recently. I always took Operation Pillar of Defence as a strategic move - a degradation of the capabilities of the islamic terrorist movements in Gaza, a useful real-time testing of the Iron Dome defence system, and an overall workout for the IDF offensive military systems and personnel. As well as weakening her enemies, Israel will draw lessons from Pillar of Defence which will allow her military to perform even better in future.
I think Netanyahu is playing the long game here. According to Joel Rosenberg, Netanyahu has always believed that Iran's nuclear programme is the main long-term threat to Israel. And I think that the recent military operation carried out by Israel should be seen in this light. (See link here.)
Israel has maneuvered Hamas into a cease fire agreement, so if they violate that at some point in the future then Israel can legitimately lay the hammer down in Gaza. The enemies of Israel to her immediate north also understand what's lined up for them. A Hezbollah weapons dump mysteriously blew up yesterday and as IAF chief Major-General Amir Eshel has pointed out, the people who are stockpiling rockets in Lebanon are currently in a very unsafe place. Should a missile war break out with Hezbollah in the future, the Israeli Air Force will take the necessary steps to end the conflict quickly. The IAF are currently developing technical capabilities which greatly enhance their ability to strike multiple targets at the same time, as well as working on other projects which would have been seen as "fantasy" just a few years ago. (See links here, here and here.)
If the day comes when Israel, or Israel and America together for that matter, have to take steps to prevent Iran's nuclear dreams from becoming a reality, then it's a pretty safe bet that Iran will then (among other things) have her proxies in Lebanon and Gaza attack Israel. And Netanyahu has laid the groundwork for laying out Iran's proxies with a devastating counterpunch, should they attack Israel at the behest of Iran. The capabilities of the islamic terrorists in the Gaza strip have been degraded, now. The people of Sderot and other towns targeted by those islamic terrorists have been given respite, now. Hamas are now obliged to prevent any further rocket attacks and if they fail to do so, then they will have broken the current cease-fire agreement, and Israel can legitimately launch a counter-attack, and can pull out all the stops too. Hezbollah can also be regarded as a legitimate military target if they start launching rockets at Israeli citizens, an act of islamic terrorism which Israel has declared to be unacceptable, and which is now recognised as a casus belli. (Note also that Netanyahu now has several key American and British politicians on record stating that Israel has the right to defend her citizens against terrorist rocket attacks.)
So if Israel had launched ground operations in Gaza as part of Operation Pillar of Defence, part of her military assets would have been tied up there, Israeli soldiers would have faced the possibility of being lifted, kept chained to a radiator for years, and the mainstream media would have criticised Israel big style for going into Gaza, we all know that. You can be sure that Iran would have milked it for all it would have been worth, and the mainstream media would have had the opportunity to ignore the Iranian nuclear programme altogether, and instead attack Israel, which we all know they would have done. Netanyahu avoided all that. Instead he's given notice to Iran's proxies, and through them to Iran, that if the Iranian nuclear project goes boom one fine day, and Iran decides to let her proxies off the leash, Israel will be waiting to hit them on the nose with a very big stick indeed!
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