Boots on the Ground or Birds in the Air?

By Gedalyah Reback, Class of 2008

Gedalyah Reback '08 with his son Avi

Gedalyah Reback ’08 with his son Avi

For everyone who believes a ground invasion will put a dent into Hamas, I am not coming to burst your bubble from some sort of diplomatic or philosophical perspective. From a strategic perspective, it might not do anything. A ground assault is only worth it if there is a tangible benefit to the attack. I’m not saying that in legal terms, as in military attacks gain legitimacy from some sort of measurable gain. This is a strategic issue.

What is the defined goal of an invasion? At what point will a full-scale incursion achieve a difference-making goal? Can Israel locate and destroy Gaza’s main rocket cache or production center? Can it incapacitate Hamas’ military leadership?

If it’s not clear these things – or another unmentioned benefit – can be achieved, then it is ill-advised to launch that kind of campaign. The special forces incursion the other night is said to have achieved its isolated objective. It was tight, clutch, well-planned and had a clear mission. An invasion would have to have that sort of endgame attached to it.

The other thing to remember is that Hamas started this war. This is not on Israel’s terms no matter how hard Israel is beating Hamas. Hamas knows it will tactically lose, so don’t give it a chance to win in other ways by even killing one single Israeli soldier – a goal they have not come close to achieving as of right now. Also consider the possibility Hamas wants to escalate the war to that level and draw the IDF into an urban jungle.

If we do go in, if not in this war but perhaps and more likely a later one, Israel needs to set the ground rules ahead of time. Hamas cannot expect an Israeli invasion. In the meantime, continue to pummel Hamas from the air. I trust the IDF knows a lot more than me on when it can achieve a major objective, so if they see fit and know what they need and can obtain, then they should go for it. Otherwise, wait for the opportune time.

Gedalyah Reback, Rutgers Class of 2008, made aliyah in 2009. He lives with his wife Shevi and son Avi in Neve Daniel, Israel. He holds a BA in Middle Eastern Studies from Rutgers, where he focused on Shi’ite Islam and Iraqi Affairs. Follow him on his blog at

Camels and Tanks – Negev Desert, Israel, CC BY 2.0 from Chalky Lives via Flickr

Camels and Tanks – Negev Desert, Israel, CC BY 2.0 from Chalky Lives via Flickr

Rutgers Hillel is proud to support our alumni in Israel.

The Rutgers Hillel Center for Israel Engagement is driven by a core belief that a positive connection to Israel is essential for a strong, healthy Jewish identity. Through the Rutgers Hillel Center for Israel Engagement students develop strong connections to our homeland and the experience to be Jewish leaders.