The “drizzle” of rockets launched from Gaza into Israel were not as big a motivating factor in launching “Operation Pillar of Defense” as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s desire to shore public support in the run-up to early elections, claims a prominent Israeli political analyst.
“The rockets are not very fatal. They aren’t, as the man in Gaza [Hamas Hamas deputy foreign minister Ghazi Hamad] pointed out, a lot of Israeli fatalaties,” David Landau, Israel correspondant for The Economist, told the BBC on Wednesday.
“But it remains the case that this drizzle of rockets made it imperative for a government running in elections to try and stop it, to show the public that they are doing something,” Landau went on to say.
Netanyahu called for early elections last October 9, which are scheduled to be held in January.
“Netanyahu would hold elections earlier than scheduled in order to catch his opponents off guard and to minimize damage to the economy,” the Jerusalem Post reported at the time.
Israeli military officials have taken great steps to maximize the success of the operation’s main goal: the killing of Hamas military leader Ahmed Al-Jaabari. Video of the targeted hit was posted online by the IDF, which also used social media to boast of the assassination directly to the Islamic radical group.
“The Israeli journalist Barak Ravid wrote on the Haaretz Web site that Mr. Jabari was Mr. Netanyahu’s Osama bin Laden,” reports the New York Times.
“If they can show the public they have restored their deterrent posture, vis-á-vis the Hamas, that certainly will rebound to the credit of the prime minister and the defense minister as they face the electorate,” Landau said.
Parallels between Netanyahu’s “getting” Al-Jarabi can be drawn with President Barack Obama’s own call to launch a Navy SEAL raid into Pakistan that killed Al Queda founder Osama bin Laden. Both political leaders, who have been at odds on Middle East issues, were in need to send a message of deterrence to the voting public, to let them know another term in office would mean they would be safe from terror.
The U.S. has publicly backed Israel in the operation. State department spokesman Mark Toner said on Thursday, “We support Israel’s right to defend itself, and we encourage Israel to continue to take every effort to avoid civilian casualties.”
The operation “remarkably” has entire support of the Israeli public and political sphere, Landau said. “You’ve got parties running against the government who have come out this evening in favor of the action. And that says everything, I think.”
However, should “Operation Pillar of Defense” drag on, or Hamas missiles are able to hit the Israeli capital Tel Aviv, “all bets are off,” Landau noted.