Israel to wait Hamas out?
Can Israel wait Hamas out? That seems incredible. After all, Hamas now has rockets that let it reach all the way to the Dead Sea and almost to the Golan Heights to the north and Eilat to the south. But two experts, who should know, say Hamas started this latest war out of desperation. Desperate men lose more often than win. So maybe the leaders of Israel calculate wisely, to strike back only in the air (or with special forces) until Hamas runs out of missiles.
Israel v. Hamas – the latest
Over the weekend, the generals who now rule Egypt, brokered a cease-fire. Israel accepted it. Hamas broke it. So the fighting started all over again. And now everyone who cares to know, knows the fault lies with Hamas and only Hamas. They had an agreement, and they broke it.
Why did Hamas refuse to abide by, or even accept, a cease-fire? Why did they start firing such long-range missiles to begin with? Missiles, unlike artillery shells, are expensive. Someone has to replace them. Normally you start a war only if you think the other side will run out of ammunition before you do. Hamas could be sure of no such thing. Israel is not even close to running out of ammo. (And if they did, they could always ask for the keys to a stockpile of American ammo for an emergency like this. They haven’t asked. Would de facto President Barack Obama refuse? He might not dare refuse in the face of the Hamas breach of the cease-fire.)
So again: why did Hamas start a war they probably can’t finish?
Israel v. Hamas – the experts speak
The head of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), and his Vice-President for Research and chief of his Israel bureau, wrote an “Inquiry and Analysis” to answer that. For one thing, they said, the Hamas military wing acted without orders. They did this after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF, or Tzahal in Hebrew) blew up a key tunnel from Gaza into Israel. Hamas’ generals (if they rate that term) had planned to use that tunnel to smuggle their own activists, and their weapons, deep inside Israel to attack civilians where they lived. The Tzahal found the tunnel, blew it up, and killed several Hamas people inside it.
So the Hamas leaders sought to provoke a ground invasion or other big reaction. They must have counted on that to rally civilians living in Gaza.
Only two things didn’t happen. First, the Tzahal didn’t invade. They are poised to invade when the Cabinet make up their minds. But they haven’t invaded yet. All they’ve done is hit Hamas launch points. And second, the people didn’t rally to Hamas as Hamas hoped they would.
In fact, say the MEMRI experts, the people of the Gaza Strip are close to fed up with Hamas. Their reaching-out to Mahmoud Abbas in Judea and Samaria (“The West Bank”) brought them nothing. (In fact, Abbas likely betrayed them; more on that below.) The Gaza economy is in crisis. So Hamas were desperate to get a rise out of Israel and rally their own people to their side. Strike one, and strike two.
Hamas has run out of friends abroad. They were on the wrong side of the Syrian civil war. The Iranians haven’t forgiven them for that. So much for fresh supplies of long-range missiles.
Egypt’s Muhammad Mursi might have been a friend of theirs. The generals who bounced Mursi and took over in Egypt are not. Those same generals shut down the tunnels that opened into the Sinai. Egypt closed the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza. The generals in Egypt consider Hamas outlaws, much as Hosni Mubarak did.
And when some Hamas people kidnapped and murdered three Israeli boys (one having American dual citizenship), Mahmoud Abbas cooperated – with the Tzahal. By killing the three, Hamas threw away a chance to get Israel to release more prisoners. Some of the same prisoners they got back for Gilad Shalit, the Tzahal have arrested all over again. Nor did Arabs living in Judea-Samaria raise any “third Intifada.”
Result: Hamas got desperate. So when the Tzahal blew up that tunnel, Hamas hit back with everything they had.
Now we know why Israel has not invaded in force. They probably think Hamas will blow out like an incandescent lightbulb flashing brightly before turning dark for good. And that might happen, just as Israel’s leaders expect.