Skip to comments.How to Win in Gaza
Posted on 07/21/2014 6:35:14 AM PDT by SJackson
Israel deployed ground forces in Gaza Thursday night both because Hamass terror tunnels into Israel have become an unacceptable threat, and because it had to break the deadlock that had developed between it and Hamas.
Until the ground invasion, Israel and Hamas were in a holding pattern. Hamas would not accept a ceasefire deal because Egypts offers provided the Iranian sponsored, Muslim Brotherhood terror army with no discernible achievements. And absent such achievements, Hamas prefers to keep fighting. Israel for its part is unwilling to make any concessions to Hamas in exchange for its cessation of its criminal terror war that targets innocent civilians in Israel as a matter of course. As Hamas sees things, it has three ways of winning.
First, if Israel had agreed to ceasefire terms that left Hamas better off than it was when it started its newest round of indiscriminate missile attacks against Israeli civilian targets, then it could have declared victory.
Hamass terms for a ceasefire included, among other things, an open border with Egypt, egress to the sea, open access to the border zone with Israel, an airport, a sea port, and the release of terrorists from Israeli prisons. Obviously, if Israel agreed to even a few of these terms, its agreement would have constituted a strategic victory for Hamas.
The second way for Hamas to win is if it able to accuse Israel of killing a large number of Palestinians at one time In that case, Hamas can expect for the US to join with the EU and the UN in forcing Israel to accept ceasefire terms that require it to make significant concessions to the Palestinians in Gaza as well as in Judea and Samaria.
This is what happened in Hezbollahs war with Israel in 2006. During the fighting, Hezbollah alleged that Israel killed a great number of Lebanese civilians in Kfar Kana. Those allegations caused then US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to effectively end US support for Israels war effort. Rice quickly coerced Israel into accepting ceasefire terms that paved the way for Hezbollahs takeover of the Lebanese government.
If Hamas is able to create a similar situation in Gaza, it will likely achieve the same sort of strategic victory over Israel.
Finally, if Hamas is able to produce a picture of victory that can burnish its reputation as the leader of the jihad against the Jews throughout the Islamic world, then it will be able to declare victory. Operations such as Hamass repeated attempts to launch mass casualty attacks in Israeli communities along the border with Gaza by infiltrating Israeli territory through its underground tunnel networks, have been geared towards achieving such an end.
Since Hamas initiated the current round of warfare against Israel, Israelis have been split in their assessments of how best to win the war. Still now, with ground forces deployed in Gaza, the dispute over the proper goal of the operation remains significant.
Although everyone supports the troops, politicians on the Left, led, most openly by Labor party leader Isaac Herzog say that Israel should limit its goals to the maximum extent and seek a ceasefire because there is no military solution to the conflict with Hamas.
Israels best bet, they say, is to do everything it can to end the Hamas missile strikes as quickly as possible through negotiations. At the same time, Herzog argues, since there is only a diplomatic solution to the Palestinian conflict with Israel, Israel needs to send negotiators to Ramallah to beg Palestinian Authority President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas to sign a peace deal with the Jewish state.
There are several basic problems with the Lefts position.
First, Hamas and its partners in Gaza from Islamic Jihad, al Qaeda affiliated jihadist militia and Fatah have no interest whatsoever in peaceful coexistence with Israel. They exist to fight Israel. This means that the only way that Israel can get them to stop fighting is by using its military force to convince them that it is not in their interest to continue shooting.
In other words, the only solution to Hamass aggression is a military solution.
Then there is the bizarre notion that a deal with Fatah is somehow the silver bullet that will end the military threat to Israel from Hamas-controlled Gaza.
A deal between Israel and Fatah in Judea and Samaria would have no effect whatsoever on the situation on the ground in Gaza. Given Hamass absolute rejection of peace with Israel, and widespread support for Israels destruction throughout Palestinian society, a peace deal between Israel and Fatah in Judea and Samaria would in all likelihood increase Hamass prestige among Palestinians and throughout the Muslim world. In other words a peace deal with Fatah would enhance Hamass prestige and power and ultimately bring about an expansion of its military capabilities.
Beyond that, Abbas has ruled the PA for the past decade. Throughout this period, he consistently demonstrated through deed and word that he will never, ever sign a peace treaty with Israel. Abbas has twice rejected offers of peace and statehood from Israel. Just three months ago he rejected another offer from US President Barack Obama. During the same period, he has signed three peace deals with Hamas. The most recent one is now in force, on the ground.
Since Hamas initiated its newest round of criminal projectile assaults on Israel, Abbas has acted as a full partner in the war. He has represented Hamas internationally. He has negotiated on its behalf and continues to do so in Cairo.
Abbas has slandered Israel in the most obscene terms. His Fatah group has actively participated in the missile offensive, on the ground in Gaza. It has also proclaimed its absolute unity of purpose with Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the war against Israel in daily official pronouncements.
Given all of this, the notion that Israel can pin a diplomatic strategy for ending Hamass war against it on Fatah is not merely ridiculous. It is inexcusably irresponsible for would-be national leaders to maintain faith with it. The only purpose such behavior serves is to reinforce the Americans and Europeans in their delusional faith that the chimerical two-state solution is a recipe for utopian peace rather than war, bloodshed and radicalization.
On the other hand, the Right, led most outspokenly by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman insists that the role of IDF ground forces in Gaza should be to reconquer the area with the aim of destroying Hamass capacity to continue shooting rockets and missiles. Only such a ground-based operation, they claim will eliminate the threat of Hamass projectiles.
There are several problems with this position.
First, it makes assumptions about Hamas that are not necessarily correct.
It is far from clear that the only way to destroy Hamas and end its capacity to harm Israel is to reconquer Gaza.
The main reason that Hamas began the current war is because the terror group is in distress.
The Egyptians have cut off the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhoods financial and military supply lines through the Sinai. Hamas of the summer of 2014 is not Hezbollah from the summer of 2006. Hezbollah had open supply lines from Iran through Syria and Turkey. Hamas is locked in between Israel and Egypt.
Moreover, Hamas is challenged on the ground in Gaza by the same jihadist groups that now fight with it against Israel. If Hamas cannot produce a victory in this round of fighting then its friends from al Qaeda affiliates and from Islamic Jihad will renew their challenge to its authority. Add to the mix the response of a public angry at Hamas for forcing it to serve as human shields for missiles and terror masters who were unable to bring home the bacon so to speak by fighting, and there is a reasonable chance that Hamas will face a full-blown insurrection once a ceasefire with Israel goes into effect.
The only way for Hamas to avert this fate is by being able to point to significant gains from the fighting that will neutralize at least some of its opponents and rivals.
In other words, Israel doesnt have to reconquer Gaza to destroy Hamas. We just have to humiliate Hamas and knock out capabilities like the tunnel networks that immediately threaten us. And then let the Gazans fight it out.
Finally, a full-scale ground invasion is a risky proposition. There is no assurance of success. Israel deployed ground forces in south Lebanon in 2006. But due to incompetent national and military leadership, the forces achieved little from a strategic perspective while absorbing painful losses.
Israel faces an acute operational challenge in Gaza. The nine year absence of IDF forces and Israeli civilians on the ground has wrecked Israels intelligence gathering capabilities and so limited the IDFs operational effectiveness. If in 2004 Israel was able to defeat Hamas through targeted killing of its commanders, repeating that success today without good human intelligence assets on the ground is a much more difficult prospect.
This is why we are already beginning to see diminishing results from the air campaign. Without human assets on the ground, the IDF either cannot locate or cannot get to the remaining high value targets.
Unless Israel is able to change this situation fairly rapidly, it will not be able to sufficiently diminish Hamass capabilities to convince Hamass leadership that they are better off ending the current fight without achieving anything significant than maintaining it until they do.
This is why the government was finally compelled to order the ground campaign.
Ground forces are required to develop the information Israel needs to kill a large enough number of Hamas leaders and destroy the tunnel complexes and a large enough quantity of missiles and launchers to convince Hamass terror masters to cry, Uncle.
While the ground operations continue, Israeli negotiators should be avidly agreeing to every ceasefire offer that denies Hamas any achievements. The IDF must continue to exercise an abundance of caution to prevent Hamas from luring our forces into a situation where we will be accused of massacring Palestinians.
None of this is easy or simple. No result is guaranteed. But in fighting Hamas today, Israel finds itself in a better position than it has faced in past fights with Hamas. For the first time, we face an enemy with a limited shelf life. Without supply lines from Egypt, Hamas cannot fight forever. Its allies at the UN can feed its forces and protect Hamas from an insurrection from a starving population. But the UN cannot rearm Hamas. It cannot reopen the smuggling tunnels from Egypt to enable materiel, money and trainers to enter Gaza.
Hamas is desperate for anything it can call a victory. By denying it one on the one hand, while taking action to force its leaders to prefer organizational humiliation to personal destruction on the other, Israel can win a decisive victory.
Killing every single terrorist in Gaza sounds like a good military solution to me.
There is nothing BUT a military solution to the conflict with Hamas.
If you negotiate with them, you just empower them and validate their actions.
If you look at the solution proposed (which according to the article is best case) it is to deny Hamas any kind of victory and then it may be destroyed by infighting. However, the article freely admits that some Al Quada inspired presumably more radical group will most likely take it’s place. In the end, the Israelies will still be fighting there, just a different group, but same enemy.
What is vastly in Israel’s favor is that Hamas’ End State always comes out as jews into the sea, and that is a non-starter even with the leftists in the White Hut. Warning, if Hamas takes it on the chin and actually gets booted for actual “moderates” then Israel is at a disadvantage, but I’m sure that is being accounted for in the strategic discussions.
Caroline Glick is one of the most cogent commentators on the Middle East today. Whatever she writes, I will read with interest. Good post.
Although no one will say it, the only real, long term solution is the forced relocation of the Palestinian population far away from Israel.
I would love for someone to do a story on where all the money goes that is sent to aid the Palestinians. I know Arafat (piss be upon him) stole a huge chunk of it and his widow is living large (if she’s still alive). We need to shine a light on the personal finances of the leaders of ham-ass.
I largely agree with the article’s analysis, but one big thing that is not really discussed is Egypt’s strategy in Gaza.
The Egyptian military wants the Muslim Brotherhood Hamas out of power in Gaza, or dead. They are handing down death sentences to Muslim Brothers in Egypt in batches of several hundred, and have been attacked almost every day in Sinai for the last year by the brothers and their terrorist allies. Egypt must be planning to get rid of the Muslim Brotherhood sanctuary on their border.
For appearances among Arabs, it is best for them to accomplish this covertly (and no one wants the hassle of trying to govern Gaza). There is no better cover than having Israel visibly do it to Hamas.
Egypt might be in a better position to collect human intelligence - they might even have some potential assets on death row interested in making a deal.
This is a key strategic opportunity for the Egyptian Military to destroy their enemy, I don’t believe that they will passively allow it to pass. I anticipate that they will seek to attrit Hamas significantly by enabling the Israeli operation, and to cultivate Fatah to take over Gaza and root out the Muslim brothers as their proxies - at the very least to provide cover for Egyptian Intel and assassins to do so.
That is a good short term solution for the Egyptian leadership. Long term however they have to do what the Germans did after WWII. Make Nazism and all of it’s strains outlawed and verbotten. Wahabism and all of it’s strains have to be outlawed and verbotten or else these fanatics will just bide their time and raise up another generation to do their fighting.
They have outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, but Wahabbis are still allowed - Egypt gets big subsidies from the Saudis, whom the Muslim Brotherhood also wants to conquer. Only the Qataris and Turks (and arguably the US) support the Muslim Brotherhood.
It is interesting that you mention the German approach, because the modern Muslim Brotherhood is to some degree a product of the Nazi Party.
Formed initially seven years after the fall of the Ottoman Islamic Caliphate after WW1, the Brotherhood were essentially an ineffective grievance group, until the Nazi’s adopted them as a regional surrogate and trained them in spycraft and military operations.
Here is an article on Hamas’ corruption:
The leader, Khaled Mashal (like Arafat was) is a billionaire. High level Hamas folks have million dollar villas and several lucrative rackets - fuel surcharges, 20% tax on all goods smuggled through their tunnels, etc. Also, when the Muslim Brotherhood took power in Egypt lots of Hamas guys got multi-million dollar windfalls.
Gazans on average have higher incomes and standard of living than the average Egyptian, but they are the world’s largest and longest running recipients of refugee funding from the international community. Some “refugees” are the third generation receiving handouts, while living continuously in their family owned homes. Palestinians in general tend to be more urban and educated. So yes, Hamas steals, but a large swath of the population is in on the big aid scam.
Nonetheless, the corruption of Arafat and his PLO/Fatah/PA were a big factor in Hamas winning the election in Gaza in 2006 - Hamas was the only alternative, and presented themselves as devout clean-living types. Well by now the bloom should be off the rose, and uncovering Hamas corruption is a key to undermining their political appeal among the Palestinian public.
This explains more of it. Its not on Israel, this time!
Arab rifts may complicate search for Gaza truce [Israel and Hamas]
DOHA/CAIRO (Reuters) - The push for a Gaza ceasefire risks becoming mired in a regional tussle for influence between conservative Arab states and Islamist-friendly governments, with rival powers competing to take credit for a truce, analysts and some officials say.
The main protagonists are Arab heavyweight Egypt and the tiny Gulf state of Qatar, on opposite sides of a regional standoff over Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, and its ideological patron the Muslim Brotherhood.
Both camps suggest the other is motivated as much by a desire to polish diplomatic prestige and crush political adversaries as by the humanitarian goal of protecting Palestinian lives from the Israeli military.
Gaza has turned very suddenly into the theater in which this new alignment within the Arab world is being expressed, said UK-based analyst Ghanem Nusseibeh.
Gaza is the first test for these new alliances, and this has affected the possibility of reaching a ceasefire there.
He was referring to Qatar, Turkey, Sudan and non-Arab Iran, the main members of a loose grouping of states which believe Islamists represent the future of Middle East politics.
That camp stands in increasingly overt competition with a conservative, pro-Western group led by Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, most of whom are intent on crushing the Brotherhood and see it as a threat.
That cleavage is now apparent in the diplomacy over Gaza.
This was the new alignment in the Middle East spoken about in a previous article from Israel, posted a few days ago! Now Gaza and Hamas is the fulcrum in the middle of this test of wills between these two major blocks. Israel has aligned itself with the Egyptian side, because both Israel and Egypt have the common goal of crushing Hamas, while the other side wants to save Hamas!
Not sure Mars is far enough away.
Very well, Europa, then.
Europe, Europa, what’s the difference? It’s free housing and welfare benefits.