In an exclusive interview, Col. Richard Kemp, former commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, speaks about the conflict with Hamas, the ethics of war, the battle for public opinion, and the prospects for peace – Peace is far from breaking out, he says.
By Judith Bergman, ISRAEL HAYOM
Col. Richard Kemp, CBE, has been spending time in Israel, where he spoke at Shurat Hadin’s “Towards a ?New Laws of War” Conference, and at Bar-Ilan University, which bestowed him with an honorary ?doctorate in recognition of his stalwart battle against terrorism and terrorist organizations. Kemp, now ?retired from the British Army, was commander of the British forces in Afghanistan in 2003 and served in ?Iraq, the Balkans and Northern Ireland. For the last five years of his 30-year military career, Kemp ?served as top adviser to the British prime minister on questions of intelligence and counterterrorism.?
Q: Can Israel win the asymmetric war launched against it by Hamas? ?
“I have no doubt that if the IDF had wanted to destroy Hamas it could have done so. The reality of ?finishing off Hamas, however, would have been that Israel would have had to take responsibility for Gaza. ?No one else would. Not the Palestinian Authority, not Egypt and not the international community. Gaza would have been ?on Israel’s shoulders. Running Gaza would have been a huge commitment and a thankless one, as well. ?Israel would not have received any gratitude from the people of Gaza – on the contrary. And all this at a ?time when there is a threat from Hezbollah in the north, Islamic State and al-Qaida in Syria, jihadist ?groups in the Sinai, and, above all, the threat from Iran. I think that was the main reason Israel did not finish ?off Hamas. ?
“Another reason Israel did not finish Hamas can be found if you compare Gaza to the battle of Fallujah, ?which is probably the most comparable situation to that in Gaza. Speaking very broadly, of course, but if ?you extrapolate from Fallujah into what would have happened if Israel had gone on to destroy Hamas in ?Gaza, it would most likely have cost several thousand lives of Israeli soldiers and many more wounded. It ?would have required an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza. Probably tens of thousands of Gaza civilians ?would have died in that process, which would have resulted in massive pressure on Israel from the ?international community.”
Q: Retired IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz has said that Operation Protective Edge lasted seven weeks, ?because Israel kept a steady flow of humanitarian supplies to the Gaza Strip. He stressed that this was ?the ethical thing to do. Would the U.S. or the U.K. have made a similar ethical choice??
“It is very hard to say, when you are talking about a hypothetical situation, but I do think that, compared to ?the way most countries would react, Israel is extremely patient and tolerant of attacks coming from Gaza. ?Not just …read more