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Palestinian demonstrators carry tires during a protest against U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem and ahead of the 70th anniversary of Nakba, at the Israel-Gaza border, east of Gaza City May 14, 2018..(Photo by: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)
Israel won against Hamas in Gaza but achieved nothing
By BEN CASPIT/MAARIV
05/17/2018
Hamas is at an all-time low and has run out of options; its achievements are few and far between with little hope on the horizon.
When the clouds of tear gas and burning-tire smoke dispersed, the results of the IDF's victory over Hamas turned out to be 60 dead, zero achievement and very little international attention. The Qataris mumbled something, Turkish President Reccep Tayip Erdogan gave his two cents and in between it all were the voices of concerned Europeans. This is what Yehia Sanwar and Ismail Haniyeh managed to gain from their exhausted, damaged and abused people.

Hamas's other objectives failed: There was no infiltration into Israel, the Palestinian protesters failed to reach Israeli towns or military positions, not a single Israel soldier was even scratched, Palestinians in the West Bank did not rally to their brothers' aid, and the Arab world shrugged its shoulders, managing only to send a feeble condemnation.

Hamas is at an all-time low and has run out of options; its achievements are few and far between with little hope on the horizon.

According to Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh's plans to breach the border fence, Hamas was supposed to infiltrate Nahal Oz today and, much to the State of Israel's relief, his plans have failed.

The time has come for Israel's political sphere to move forward and decide — but do not hold your breath. 

In Israel, the political echelon is generally complacent at such moments. So what is the rush? We do not have a true victory that we can accept. We lack the ability to foresee a solution and use the momentary leverage in our current comparative advantage to improve the future.

It is no secret that there is no difference of opinion between the Israeli defense community and the IDF regarding tactical issues, but there is an abyss in the strategic realm — and the army's course of action is supported by a wall-to-wall consensus.

On the other hand, the political stagnation is perceived by many of our security professionals as a disaster. No, there is no explicit criticism of the political echelon, there is a universal recognition that the politicians are free to navigate their path.

Even if this is the case, there must be behind closed doors quite a bit of frustration regarding the current situation.

On Tuesday 60 Palestinians from Gaza lost their lives, and next time there will be 600.

The problem is that the Israeli political echelon does not take this into consideration when it makes its decisions. Israeli politicians are more afraid of losing elections and their social standing than they are concerned with the chaos that leads to conflict in Gaza every two or three years. This is exactly the difference between leaders who try to guess the will of the people and those who manage to lead by example.

Despite IDF's clear victory in recent days and Hamas movement's hopelessness, and despite the clear balance of power, the Gazans are not going anywhere. The more they sink into distress and despair, the less they will have to lose.

After Plan A and B failed, does Hamas have a plan C?

According to the IDF, Hamas faced a crisis in failed attempts at reconciliation with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. After what Hamas saw as the PA's betrayal, the terror group turned to its "plan B": the March of Return protests with the ultimate goal of penetrating the fence by any means necessary through the blood, fire and smoke.

Apparently, though, there is no plan C. Hamas will move in all different directions trying to find it's way. Several proposals for a long-term "cease-fire" with Israel have been made and Israel has continued to ignore these proposals. The other possibility is to continue to launch rockets and try to carry out a serious attack through a tunnel, assuming that usable tunnels remain. It seems Hamas is not relying on this option. Rather, it is waiting for the next climactic boom, worse than the previous ones.

The cautious assessment of intelligence officials today speak to the reality that in view of unprecedented distress and the unprecedented lack of movement, it will be possible to bring Hamas to places in which it has never agreed to be. For example, it would be possible to renew Palestinian reconciliation efforts, to bring the Palestinian Authority to Gaza and to resolve the division of military power.

Hamas will not disarm of its own volition, but can it certainly can agree to share it power and not hold its militaristic government in Gaza exclusively. This could be a historic development and an initial step to ending terrorism in the Gaza Strip.

Translated by Jonathan Rosen.

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