The attempt at a cease-fire now under way is, in many ways, an experiment to see
whether ideology can be trumped by deterrence. If the cease-fire does not hold,
that would mean that Hamas cannot be deterred, or that it cannot control the
other terror factions in Gaza, leaving open for Israel only the option of
toppling the Hamas regime.
Since sweeping to power in a violent coup in
2007 in Gaza and ejecting Fatah, Hamas has clung tight to its fanatical
ideology, cultivating a mass culture of jihad and death, and arming itself with
thousands of Iranian long-range and medium-range rockets and other deadly
An indication of the indoctrination under way in Gaza can be
found in a broadcast on Hamas’s Al-Aksa TV, which, in response to the Tel Aviv
bus bombing, declared, “God willing, we will soon see body bags. The residents
of Gaza are bowing down to Allah for this offering.”
Gaza into a rocket-launching base, Hamas has gradually also entrenched itself as a regime, with all the trappings of a sovereign entity,
including a domestic security force and government structures. It has attempted
to strike a delicate balance between keeping its newfound power and maintaining
its old terrorist ways.
At times, it targeted hundreds of thousands of
Israelis with indiscriminate rocket attacks while at other times, Hamas made
some attempts to reign in the other terror factions in Gaza, primarily Islamic
Jihad, which receives its orders and weapons directly from Tehran, and smaller
al-Qaida affiliated groups.
All of these radical violent factions have
mushroomed in Hamas-run Gaza, as the enclave became a hornet’s nest of jihadi
In recent months, Hamas, encouraged by the rise of its parent
movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, in Egypt, had again taken the lead in
launching rockets and deadly unprovoked cross-border raids on IDF
Operation Pillar of Defense was a message to Hamas, that it must
choose between acting on its depraved ideology, or holding on to power. After
more than 1,500 air strikes, 30 killings of senior Hamas operatives, and the
loss of a major chunk of its rocket arsenal and command centers, Israel took the
decision to stand back and see if the message has sunk in.
officials say Hamas has been shocked by the pounding it received, despite the
public messages it is sending.
They believe the cease-fire has a decent
chance of holding, but are far from convinced that this is the only outcome of
It is safe to assume that contingencies are in place in
case the rockets start flying again. One of those contingencies must involve an
extensive ground offensive into Gaza for the purpose of toppling the regime, a
measure that would reverberate across the entire region.