Since Israel withdrew its citizens and military forces from the Gaza Strip last summer, a great deal has been written about the consequences of the destruction of the Jewish communities there for the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria. Much has also been said of the rising threats to Israel's security in the south as a result of the retreat from Gaza.
There is a third aspect of the Israeli retreat from Gaza and northern Samaria that to date has not garnered any significant public attention. That issue is the impact of the operation on the Israel Defense Forces. Given that the IDF is the national organization charged with ensuring Israel's survival, anything that happens to the IDF has direct consequences for Israel's national security. And so it is worth considering what impact, if any, the operation has had on the IDF.
Disturbingly, the military's organizational behavior since the withdrawal from Gaza, as manifested in operations on the ground and in statements by senior commanders, indicates that the withdrawal of IDF forces from Gaza has harmed the IDF's self-assessment and its understanding of its mission.
This troubling situation is most clearly evident in the Southern Command. That command devoted itself last year almost entirely to the non-military task of preparing and carrying out the uprooting of the Jewish communities from Gaza. Now it is contending with the new threats that have emerged along Israel's long border with Egypt and in the Gaza Strip since it completed that mission.
As the daily Kassam rocket and mortar strikes on Ashkelon, Sderot and the rest of the Israeli communities bordering Gaza have shown, since the withdrawal, the Southern Command has failed in its mission to provide security to southern Israel.
Last Thursday afternoon, CG Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant briefed military reporters in Tel Aviv. The day before the briefing, Ashkelon's industrial area - home to some of Israel's most vital national infrastructures - was struck by Kassam rockets. That attack on the industrial area was launched from Gaza right after the IDF declared the successful conclusion of "Operation Lightning Strike." That operation was supposed to prevent the shooting of Kassam rockets on southern Israel.
As well, last Thursday morning, soldiers from the Givati Brigade killed two terrorists who attacked them with rifle fire from the Erez crossing where Gazan workers enter Israel.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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