Article published by Israel Hayom, 10 March 2017. © Richard Kemp
I was in Israel throughout Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014 and monitored the campaign as closely as someone outside the official machinery could do. Having been involved in the direction of conflict from the top level of government down to command on the ground in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Balkans and Northern Ireland, I believe this highly complex and demanding operation, fought under an intensely critical international spotlight, was conducted effectively and with the best possible outcome.
To argue that the war could have been avoided is to simply ignore the diplomatic and political efforts made over several years to do just that, not only by the Israeli government and its ambassadors but also by supporters around the world, including the Friends of Israel Initiative of which I am a member. It is to ignore the actions of international governments and organizations like the UN and EU that encouraged terrorist acts against Israel and still do. And it is to ignore the malign intransigence and motivations of Hamas itself and its supporters such as Iran, which are hell-bent on the destruction of the Jewish state.
Of course errors were made, as they always are in war. Winston Churchill himself readily admitted making many mistakes in the prosecution of World War II. But to a large extent due to his courage, judgement and leadership, Britain and its allies ultimately defeated their enemies in the most lethal conflagration mankind has ever known.
The ultimate outcome, not the inevitable mistakes along the way, is the true measure of any armed conflict and it is the true measure of this Gaza war. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s objective was not the total defeat of Hamas, but to inflict sufficient damage to force a cessation of hostilities and deter further aggression as far into the future as possible.