Analysis: Not a war won by buttons

"It seems that we've left Gaza, but Gaza doesn't want to leave us."

"It seems that we've left Gaza, but Gaza doesn't want to leave us," said Uzi Dayan on Wednesday, following the Gaza gun battle that left three soldiers dead. "In the long term, we will rid ourselves of this dependency, but in the meantime we need to supply them with the minimum in order to prevent the humanitarian toll on the population," added the chairman of the Tafnit party and former National Security adviser, addressing questions of what to do about the situation in Gaza. What Dayan and other experts in the field seem to forecast is a continuation of the status quo. Completely cutting off fuel and electricity will only play into Hamas's hands, giving them full license to blame Israel for the ills of their population, which in turn could fill their ranks with angry and hungry Gazans, left with little alternative but to join Hamas. Not using IDF ground troops for patrols and counter-ambush operations would give Kassam cells in the area free reign to plot and execute their missions against southern border communities - something at which they've proved to be efficient, even with Israeli forces on the ground. After all, this fight isn't reserved for the air force. "This is not a battle that is won with buttons," said Dayan. "At the end of the day, you need a ground presence there. It's not enough to fly our F-16s over Syria - we need to use our M-16s in Gaza." Other experts agree. "Not everything is possible to do from the air," says Gen. (ret.) Danny Rothschild, president of the Council for Peace and Security. "The tactics Hamas used today are nothing new, but I don't think this is something we will see every day." Rothschild and Dayan are both proponents of continuing the flow of electricity and gas into the Strip and of continuing to use ground forces Zvi Mazel, former ambassador to Egypt, understands this to be the reality as well, even if it's not ideal. "The strategy of Hamas and other Palestinian groups is something called 'Worse is Better,'" he said. "You attack the Jews until they retaliate, and [then] say to the world, 'Look what they're doing to me.' This was Arafat's strategy as well, and he gained a lot from it. So we're in a dilemma - a trap, even." Mazel sees this dilemma as providing humanitarian assistance to a population that is ruled by an Islamic group bent on holy war. "If you would, for a moment, imagine the conflict from Hamas's point of view," Mazel continued. "Their relations with Israel are relations in the framework of jihad. There is jihad with Israel, and no other solution. If you read Hamas's charter, this is exactly what you'll see." But the alternative is to let Gaza descend into all-out chaos, from which Hamas will likely emerge stronger. At this point, the experts surmise, the army and government are willing to continue attempts to destabilize Hamas through isolation, while allowing the minimum of fuel and electricity to trickle in. So a two-pronged approach will continue - the IDF will keep deploying troops in the South and keep sending them into Gaza. At the same time, shipments of aid will continue to flow into Gaza. This seems to be the only choice, for now.