Tension builds between Hamas and Israel
Col. Cedric Leighton and Christian Whiton weigh in on the escalating conflict in the Mideast
- Duration 10:38
- Date Nov 19, 2012
Col. Cedric Leighton and Christian Whiton weigh in on the escalating conflict in the Mideast
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All right let's continue talking about the Gaza Strip and let's bring in another panel right now we have colonel Cedric Leighton.
Retired from the US air force and president Cedric -- & Associates.
Out of our DC bureau the LA bureau Christian white -- -- -- -- I'm pronouncing that right former senior advisor to US State Department.
In principle DC international joining us from our Los Angeles bureau.
-- -- First I wanna start with you we're talking about an air campaign and the Gaza Strip it seems limited.
What can they get done in terms of airstrikes in terms of shutting down the ability of Hamas to fire rockets -- -- gas.
Well -- it depends on their targeting capabilities and -- really what they're looking at doing is going after the various batteries of missiles that are out there.
The Israelis have looked at the fought her five missile.
That is the Iranian missile that Hamas has been using the one that has basically threatened Jerusalem and Tel Aviv so longer range missile and that.
Is in the area that they've worked in in terms of getting at -- could -- New long range missile -- becomes very very important for the Israelis to strike -- that those.
As to what they've done is they've tried to target those and they think they've eliminated most of them bought.
There are always some surprises out there and because of the illicit supply lines that to go from Iran to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
They're going to be a lot of problems say targeting those so those areas it's going to be very difficult also from a civilian and collateral damage perspective as well.
Now do you talk about collateral damage -- something that could really end this conflict on the side of Hamas.
Is if there is a strike with who would really profound civilian casualties.
And we thought about the Gaza Strip -- not big enough to run a marathon from top to bottom and it is packed with one point eight million people.
The you're going to have civilian casualties you can even have -- information that intentionally leaves you -- to civilian casualties.
Social colonel how out of it does prime minister Netanyahu avoid this tremendous pitfall that that's waiting for.
Well he has to be very careful because he'd been really depends on the targeting.
This solution since -- the intelligence has to be ironclad and intelligence is as you know never a perfect art.
And waited till it comes to the targeting -- those solutions that they get they have to use the right kind of weaponry.
The area that they go after they also have to make sure that they -- go after areas that are considered.
To be real targets in other words not civilian centers not hospitals not schools but the problem is is that Hamas is going to use those areas especially mosques and and other institutions.
As a means of cover.
So it becomes very very hard for them to do it from the air the best solution would be a combination of air strikes and special operations strikes.
But then you put the Israeli soldiers at risk -- you created not a whole problem with the political pressure.
On prime minister Netanyahu -- this constituency MPQ speaking of political pressure I want to bring you Christian white right now because I'd like to talk.
About the broader threat that Israel faces right now as everybody knows they're surrounded by unfriendly enemies.
They -- -- that peace accord with the egyptians is not as solid as it was certainly not back in the in the early eighties.
And then you've also got this element with the Syrians have recently fired into the Golan Heights.
Which is in the very northern part of Israel and Hezbollah is getting their directors from around their unpredictable.
So in the event that the Israelis going to the ground what's the likelihood that we're going to -- something in the north.
Why can't think that you know -- right to point out the hand of Iran and all of this not just coming from the north but frankly Hamas to where all the action has been in this last week.
It is trained by Iran it's equipped by Iran it's funded by Iran -- never would have taken the steps it's taken without the go ahead from Iran.
It often in America we look at this and we see all these bad actors in the Middle East Hezbollah Hamas.
Other elements and -- -- you have -- running government itself with its nuclear ambitions but the common denominator is that.
Our Ronnie and regime so you know it's very important I think for Israel which is being tested at this time.
By Iran that just you know feels a very open door to do it wants I think -- season -- never election results the United States.
Proof positive that there is no plausible threat of force against Toronto he's not from the US so.
Israeli -- -- to act in a humane way essentially in retaliating for these very egregious actions against it.
But also has to push back hard on Iran signaled Tehran that it's not willing to roll over.
Whether it's for missiles coming into its neighborhoods from Gaza or whether it's the overall nuclear program.
And bring the viewers into some of the intricacies -- this if you remember one Hamas was elected to power in the Palestinian territories.
Their charter that said Israel must be destroyed.
To the western world cut off all funding Palestinian territories are entirely -- dependent.
So the Palestinian days semi state.
Went broke immediately and that is when.
Not -- That Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the rest of the -- in -- Open the purse strings opened their arms and welcomed the Sunnis of all people into the Shiite nation.
With all of this money and now they have another proxy in Hamas in the Gaza Strip so that being said.
As we're talking about negotiations in Cairo what can be done to make the moderates.
The Fatah Party which is not loyal to to -- somehow relevant in these discussions.
It's very difficult so far as you point out Gaza is -- -- is controlled completely by Hamas there was one election one time.
And after that they dispensed with the niceties of democracy basically.
You know we should feel sympathy for a Palestinian people who live under this tyranny.
In Gaza I think any apparent attempt to to replace Hamas takes as -- hailed as the ruler of Gaza would be.
Met with them you -- very.
Difficult circumstances shall we say.
You know the only people who really have pressure here who have a seat at the table -- others within Islam -- Islamist circles.
Certainly Egypt which has you know.
Sort of unfortunately good relationships with Hamas in growing relationships could bring.
Pressure to -- I think is important from the west you have people who say that we need to put pressure on Israel.
And that we need to bring all the parties to the table the party still currently exist to form some lasting agreement because Hamas is backfire -- because some losses.
Committed utterly to the destruction of Israel and then of course on the other side you have Hezbollah has -- -- successor to the Islamic Jihad took Americans captive in Lebanon in the eighties.
It's a really don't have the forces here we need to wage political warfare against the islamists in Gaza if we ever want a long term agreement.
But you don't do that through diplomats whether they're American or Israeli diplomats you have to work through.
Islamic -- to do that and we need to have a partner do that Egypt seems increasingly unlikely to be that partner may be behind closed doors Turkish president aired -- one would be.
More willing to be a partner in this but I'm so far there's nothing -- site that looks like any long term agreement to becoming.
-- an -- -- one has come down so publicly and so strongly against the Israelis particularly for the last Gaza conflict.
-- -- -- let me bring you -- you talk about the Gaza conflict everybody wants a resolution it seems there's only two solutions one you could negotiate something in Cairo or there's going to be a ground invasion.
Is there any way to break the back of Hamas.
Stop the well with the -- without breaking the back of Hamas.
Stop the rocket fire short of -- ground invasion.
I think the only way to do it is we've really precise targeting of five each of these -- battery -- the problem is is they're very mobile and so it becomes a really really hard thing to do so is it a probable course of action.
Yes it it is a somewhat probable course of action but it has to be done with other things I only see it.
Being done in concert with -- ground invasion unfortunately.
And it seems that sin -- Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip their ability.
To gather intelligence has been decreased significantly it's not the same thing as the West Bank where they learn about the bombers before the come across the wall.
Before they come right across the wall we talk about a Gaza Strip Israelis don't go in there unless they go and.
That's right and it's one of those situations where because of that dearth of intelligence to becomes highly unlikely that they will use a targeted.
I campaigned from the error only from the year they will use air.
As a means of achieving their ends but will not be the only means -- they will use targeted strikes such as drone strikes like they already did of course to precipitate this.
But it is going to be a situation where you -- kid each of the possible military.
Outcomes with this and the only way that they can bring anybody to the negotiating table.
Really threatening to increase the blockade.
And then of course by threatening to use military force and in this case probably actually using military force and that brings within its own set of problems just because of the urban nature of Gaza and the fact that it is so small and so densely populated.
Christian it seems that fit the only organization that is benefiting from this at all.
Is Iran right now he disagree.
-- I think that's right again they're just they've been pushing on an open door if you go back through their history.
Mean we have this now where their proxy armies are at war with our ally Israel.
Go back just in the last decade they were responsible for hundreds perhaps thousands of the American casualties that we occurred.
That we incurred in Iraq not just because they sold arms to the people who killed our guys they actually were involved directly in that go back to the decade before that -- You know it's just a really long history of Iran since 1979.
I misbehaving atrocious leading -- in acts of war against not only Israel but against the United States and getting away with itself so far they're benefiting.
You know I think it could it could be good if they had some very strong push back there are -- couple of signs out there that are.
A positive in English paper for example in the gulf English language paper coming -- saying that you know they're sympathetic to the Palestinians but Hamas and doing the wrong thing in starting this war so if you can create divisions within Islam -- -- there there could be some benefit here but hard to see too many positive signs at this point.
And while we have the world focused on what's happening in the Gaza Strip we have America certainly focused on what's happening on Capitol Hill.
The Iranians continue rather aggressively try to get confident with their nuclear enrichment.
Which takes them a little bit closer to -- and we.
Are out of time but I want to thank you gentlemen for joining me it was a -- in -- which we have more time.