The routine is well rehearsed. Since Israel’s withdrawal from Gush Katif and the Gaza Strip in August 2005, Hamas has fired thousands of rockets at Israeli civilian centers while hiding behind helpless children.
During this period, Hamas has from time to time, when it sensed an opportunity, intensified the rocket-fire and by doing so held an entire country hostage, under the premise that Israel’s reprisal would be limited to targeted aerial attacks, followed by international hullabaloo, and then by funding for reconstruction and lining politicians’ pockets.
This time, Hamas has miscalculated.
This time, all signs show it has gone one bridge too far.
Hamas is weak. It can no longer look to the Muslim Brotherhood for backing as Egypt is now led by a former general that spent much of his career hunting down radical Islamists of Hamas’s ilk. Most of the international community has either had enough of Hamas aggression or is indifferent, preoccupied with the World Cup or concerned about the higher stakes of the recently declared Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
The last thing it needs is another extreme Islamic Republic placed between Israel and Egypt.
On the Israeli side, the prime minister is as strong as ever, enjoying strong support for any effort to finally put an end to Hamas’s shenanigans.
That support may evaporate if Hamas continues to terrorize Israel at will after this costly campaign is completed.
Israelis are fed up. Aside from the Hamas terrorism that has on a daily basis sent thousands of children to bomb shelters, the counterattack has been costly. had a similar sum invested in security needs been invested in social ones, many problems such as housing may have been eased.
The civilian and military necessity to dismantle the Hamas is clear and Israel’s efforts to do so are in complete compliance with the laws of war in general and the principles of military necessity and proportionality in particular.
No other nation would have waited so long or gone to such efforts to spare the lives of non-combatants.
As for Tony Blair and others that insist that terrorism cannot be eradicated and therefore must be appeased, please refer to the case studies of Peru’s Shining Path, Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers and Japan’s Aum Shinrinkyo, or simply skim through Audrey Kurth Cronin’s scholarly work, How Terrorism Ends, wherein she overviews and lists the decline and demise of dozens of terrorist campaigns. Hamas has terrorized Palestinians and Israelis for too long and its end should come now.
At the end of the day, in order to accomplish this, the land currently under Hamas control will need to be conquered.
Not necessarily occupied, but definitely conquered, with subsequent export and import of weaponry into Gaza controlled. Any other solution will not do.
If Hamas is not knocked out in this round it will be stronger in the next one, just as it has enhanced its capabilities since the last large-scale Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip. So Prime Minister Netanyahu, for peace’s sake, please finish the job.
The author is a PhD candidate at Haifa University and a research fellow at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya.