The Olmert-Livni-Peretz government is incapable of learning. This is the only possible explanation for its handling of the Palestinian assault on southern Israel which has seen some 200 rockets and missiles fall on Sderot, southern Ashkelon and the surrounding areas in the past week alone.
On Sunday, the security cabinet met and discussed options for contending with the situation. At the outset, it nixed launching a large-scale assault on Gaza in favor of continuing pinpoint air strikes against Hamas leaders.
The security cabinet defined Hamas as Israel's enemy in the current campaign. The government discussed the option of transferring more arms and money to Fatah, which serves as a junior partner in the Hamas "unity" government. Such a move would simply follow the government's move last week to allow up to 500 Egyptian-trained Fatah fighters to enter the Gaza Strip.
The security cabinet's discussion took for granted that it is not Israel's responsibility to secure Gaza's border with Egypt. As opponents of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza warned, that border has served as a terror thoroughfare since the IDF withdrew its forces from the area in September 2005. Through the border, Gaza has been inundated with advanced weaponry. Terrorists from abroad have entered Gaza at will. Terrorist from Gaza freely leave the area for terror training in Iran, Syria and Lebanon and then return.
Rather than ordering the IDF to reassert control over the border, the security cabinet considered two other options. The Foreign Ministry recommends that an international force be deployed to the area, much like the UNIFIL forces in Lebanon. Defense officials think it would be better to have Egypt secure the border much as the Lebanese army now sits on Israel's northern border.
Unfortunately, all of the security cabinet's strategic assumptions are either wholly or partially incorrect. As a result, the options it adopted or continues to consider will either have no strategic impact on Israel's security predicament vis-a-vis Gaza or will adversely affect Israel's national security.
IN ITS definition of the parameters of its debate and policy options, the government displayed clearly that it has learned nothing from its defeat at the hands of Iran's proxy army in Lebanon - Hizbullah - in last summer's war.
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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