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Myth:

It is bad policy to keep the IDF in Gaza for the foreseeable future

Source:

Yishai Gelb

Fact:

The Case for IDF Presence in Gaza: A Comparative Security Analysis


The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) presence in the Gaza Strip has been a contentious issue, generating intense debate since the beginning of the war in 2023. While the sentiment against IDF presence in Gaza is strong internationally, it is imperative to analyze the security situation and broader implications critically. On a pure quality of life scale, maintaining the IDF presence in Gaza is in the Palestinians' best interest, particularly when compared to the security situation in the West Bank (Judea & Samaria), and life during Hamas’s tyrannical rule.


Historical Context and Current Security Dynamics


The Gaza Strip and Judea & Samaria  present vastly different security landscapes. The IDF withdrew from Gaza in 2005 under the unilateral disengagement plan, leaving the region under the control of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which soon lost power to Hamas in a bloody coup. Since then, Hamas and Israel have experienced recurrent conflicts, rocket fire into Israel with Israeli retaliation, resulting in Israeli and Egyptian blockade. Palestinians' lives were made difficult while Hamas leaders enriched their pockets living luxurious lives in Qatar and Turkey.


In contrast, Judea & Samaria, where the IDF maintains a significant presence, has seen comparatively lower levels of violence and better economic conditions. The cooperation between the IDF and PA security forces has been pivotal in maintaining relative stability in Judea & Samaria. This collaboration along with economic activity between Israel and the West Bank has resulted in fewer large-scale conflicts and has enabled better management of local and regional security threats.


So what are the Security Benefits of IDF Presence in the Gaza Stip until a long term solution is offered?


Counter-Terrorism Operations

The IDF has extensive experience and resources dedicated to counter-terrorism operations. In Judea & Samaria, the IDF's presence has been crucial in preventing numerous attacks and dismantling terror cells. For instance, the cooperation between IDF and PA forces has led to the interception of weapons shipments and the arrest of militants planning attacks. In Gaza, however, the absence of the IDF has allowed militant groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad to thrive, posing a constant threat to both Israeli and Palestinian civilians.


Prevention of Militant Infrastructure

In Judea & Samaria, the IDF has successfully prevented the establishment of extensive militant infrastructure, such as attack tunnels and missile production facilities, which are prevalent in Gaza, and which cost the local economy incredible amounts of treasure. The discovery and destruction of terror tunnels in Gaza have highlighted the threats posed by these structures, which are used to smuggle weapons and launch attacks on Israeli soil. The IDF's ability to monitor and control such activities in Judea & Samaria has significantly contributed to the region's relative security.


Economic Stability and Development

Security and economic stability are closely linked. The relative security in Judea & Samaria, facilitated by the IDF's presence, has allowed for economic activities to continue, albeit under constraints. In Gaza,Hamas rule has led to a collapsed economy, high unemployment, and dire humanitarian conditions. By ensuring security, the IDF presence can create a more conducive environment for economic activities and development initiatives, ultimately benefiting the Palestinian population.


Humanitarian Aid and Reconstruction

The presence of the IDF can also facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid and the reconstruction of essential infrastructure. Without the IDF’s presence during the reconstruction period, it is too likely that Hamas or other militant groups will steal incoming aid to rebuild its terror infrastructure delaying the rebuilding process and forcing the Palestinians into a never ending battle zone.


While the notion of IDF presence is inherently contentious, the comparative security analysis of Gaza and the West Bank illustrates that the IDF's presence can play a crucial role in maintaining stability, preventing terrorism, and fostering economic development. It is important to mention that the Israeli government nor the Israeli public have any desire to maintain long term presence in the Gaza Strip. Not a military presence, and surely not civil governance. For Palestinians in Gaza, the potential benefits of an IDF presence—modeled on the security cooperation seen in the West Bank—could include reduced conflict, improved economic conditions, and better humanitarian outcomes. Ultimately, a secure and stable environment is a fundamental prerequisite for any meaningful progress towards peace and prosperity in the region, which could lead to eventual self rule for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

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