Ronen Bergman writes: Israel’s leaders are determined to represent Defensive Edge as a victory, and it is therefore unlikely that public inquiry panels will be set up as they were after the Lebanon war in 2006 or that heads will roll.
However, the I.D.F. will have to reinvent the way it counters guerrilla warfare. It will once again have to try to recruit agents in Gaza, now that it has become clear that electronic spying is insufficient because Hamas has become more careful.
Israel’s foreign intelligence agency, the Mossad, will now have to pay more attention to Hamas operatives in Qatar and Turkey and intercept Hamas’s communications from weapons suppliers, like North Korea.
Israel may also decide to focus on striking Hamas personnel outside Gaza, without taking responsibility. When the Mossad assassinated a top Hamas official in 2010 in Dubai, the large amount of negative publicity led to a cessation of such acts, but they may now be judged more effective than massive military action. Likewise, special operations will get more attention. Hamas surprised Israel, but Israel has carried out almost no imaginative or daring targeted operations in this latest war. Ehud Barak, the most prominent commando fighter in Israel’s history, proposed some such schemes when he was defense minister in 2010, but they were not adopted.
Finally, the defense ministry will be given unlimited funding to devise an underground electronic “fence” based on oil and gas prospecting technology, that will be laid all along the border between Israel and Gaza to detect tunnels as they are built.
For Israel, this round of fighting will probably end politically more or less at the point where it began but with significant damage to Israel’s deterrence.
And the feeble efforts at negotiation efforts between Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority and Israel now seem completely irrelevant, as military commanders on both sides go back to their drawing boards to plan the inevitable next round.