Israel Learned the Lessons of Last Gaza War

Despite Critique, Goldstone Report's Suggestions Proved Useful

Lessons Learned: The conflict in Gaza has died down for now. Even harsh critics of Israel recognize that it did a far better job managing the battle this time.
getty images
Lessons Learned: The conflict in Gaza has died down for now. Even harsh critics of Israel recognize that it did a far better job managing the battle this time.

By Nathan Jeffay

Published November 26, 2012, issue of November 30, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

Former defense official Barak Ben-Zur told the Forward that the in Pillar of Defense, a combination of highly accurate intelligence and recently upgraded technology allowed Israel to be target its strikes more precisely. Ben-Zur, who served as head of the Israel Defense Forces’ anti-terrorism department, as head of the intelligence and research division of Shin Bet, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency, and as special assistant to Shin Bet’s director, said that in particular, the use of advanced drones helped to keep down death tolls relative to Cast Lead.

“Their capability and the way they are used makes them much more effective than in the past,” he commented. In Ben-Zur’s assessment, two other considerations motivated Israel to make a greater effort to keep the death toll down: the pressure of world opinion, especially in the light of criticism of Cast Lead, and a fear of sparking a regional conflict in the new post-Arab Spring Middle East.

Ben-Zur believes that a calm mentality among Israeli civilians, in large part due to the protection afforded by the Iron Dome missile defense system, kept at bay domestic pressure on the government to launch a ground offensive. This avoided an escalation that could well have led to more civilian deaths and made the actions of military personnel less predictable than when they are operating from the air.

In the throes of Cast Lead, there were widespread claims that basic humanitarian supplies and medical equipment were lacking in Gaza. And, in fact, Israel allowed only very limited supplies in then.

In contrast, during Pillar of Defense, the Kerem Shalom crossing to Gaza from Israel was open for long stretches, hundreds of truckloads of food and medical goods passed, and officials in charge of the crossing declared themselves determined to see that supplies made it through.

There were closures, and on November 20, Gazans reported a shortage of cooking gas and fuel after the crossing was closed for most of the day. But the closures were a result of attacks, not Israeli policy. Military spokesman Arye Shalicar told the Forward that the crossing closed only when it was shelled by militants, rendering it unsafe. “Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others target Kerem Shalom very intensely,” he said.

Sari Bashi, director of Gisha, a group that advocates for freedom of movement, said that “the humanitarian supply situation is much better” than during Cast Lead.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.