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A Draw Can’t Be Called a Hamas Defeat

Viewed objectively, the celebratory gunfire and ritualistic declarations of victory emanating from Hamas today after it accepted a cease-fire with Israel are pure bunk. Hamas’s decision to launch a new round of fighting in Gaza turned out to be a disaster from a military perspective as well as from the point of view of the suffering Palestinians who paid the price for this folly in blood and destruction of their homes. But their boasts are not entirely foolish.

Though Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu may have had little real choice but to go along with the formal end of hostilities, by emerging from 50 days of battle with its hold on Gaza intact, Hamas has ensured that its misrule over the strip and permanent block of any hopes of peace will continue.

Netanyahu’s decision to accept the cease-fire will be bitterly debated in Israel, but even his angriest critics will have to admit that the concessions given Hamas are minimal. The terms, which allow a slight increase in humanitarian aid and material into Gaza and an expansion of the zone allowed Gaza fishermen from three to six miles are more or less a rehash of the 2012 agreement that ended a previous round of fighting. The blockade of Gaza has not been lifted. Nor has Israel promised to allow the Palestinians to build an airport or seaport. Those requests will be discussed in negotiations that are supposed to take place next month in Cairo and will be placed alongside the Israeli demand for the demilitarization of Gaza. That means neither side will get what it wants, making the war, for all of Israel’s military achievements and the catastrophic impact on Gaza’s population, largely a draw.

That’s nothing for Hamas to brag about. It started the hostilities when its members kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teenagers and then fired over 4,000 missiles at Israel during the past 50 days with little to show for the expenditure of much of its carefully assembled arsenal. While much of Israel’s population had to spend much of the last few weeks scurrying back and forth to shelters, Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system effectively neutralized the rocket threat. Hamas also lost the complex network of tunnels along the border on which it had expended so much of the money that poured into the strip from foreign donors. Instead of being able to use the tunnels to pull off a mass atrocity inside Israel as they had hoped, they wound up being destroyed when Israeli forces invaded the strip.

But any Israeli claims of victory are just as hollow as those of Hamas.

Even a slight loosening of the blockade will inevitably mean that Hamas will be able to replenish some if not all of its supply of rockets and other armaments. Nor can anyone in the international community, let alone in Israel, have the slightest confidence that any safeguards put in place will prevent the construction materials that will be allowed into Gaza for rebuilding homes, schools, and other civilian structures won’t instead be used to restore Hamas’s military infrastructure, including command center bunkers, rocket storage facilities, and the infamous tunnels.

All of which means that the next time Hamas decides that the time is right for more fighting, Israel will be right back where it was two months ago. Even if the Israel Defense Forces improves its ability to detect tunnels and Hamas doesn’t figure out a way to defeat the Iron Dome, that is hardly an encouraging prospect for an Israeli people drained from a summer of conflict. A draw isn’t a victory for either side, but any result that leaves Hamas standing and ready to start fighting again when it chooses can hardly be called a defeat for the terrorists.

In my next post, I’ll discuss the implications of this result for both Netanyahu and the future of the conflict.


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2 Responses to “A Draw Can’t Be Called a Hamas Defeat”

  1. IAN LANE says:

    I have no idea of what pressure Netanyahu was placed under by his feckless American allies (the only ones with such significant influence of critical Israeli decisions) that resulted in such an ambiguous result. I’m just deeply sorry that this result “… leaves Hamas standing and ready to start fighting again when it chooses …” which solves nothing. As Danial Pipes and many others have often said, the only way to achieve a victory is to achieve a victory. Any result that leaves Hamas in power is not a victory of Israel.

  2. RICHMOND says:

    There is only one way of bringing peace between Israel and the Palestinians, in which I include Hamas and the other terrorist organisations. That way is to stop educating children into hate and believing the Jews have evicted Palestinians from land that is rightfully theirs.

    Irrespective of the lack of veracity of the constant claims that Jews have stolen land that belongs to Palestinians, the fact is that Israel exists and nothing the Palestinians have done or can do, short of outright support for them by a USA abrogation of support for Israel, will change the facts on the ground. Thus, it is incumbent of the PA, Hamas, PIJ and Hezbollah to accept the status quo and work with it to create prosperous economies in Arab countries.

    Israel has continually stressed it want peace, not simply because it realises that prosperity depends on peace, but also because it genuinely regrets the loss of life. This latter is entirely consistent with Jewish thought, i.e. you live by Torah not die by it, but is incompatible with those who glorify death because it makes them shaheed, even children are sacrificed having been persuaded to welcome Paradise.




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