Physical and virtual war with Hamas are inevitible

War noises from Gaza:

Hamas official Sheikh Ahmad Hamdan of Khan Yunis said Tuesday that he recently met with [Muhammed] Deif in the fugitive’s hiding place. According to Hamdan, Deif, leader of Hamas’s Izzadin a-Kassam armed wing, told him that in the next few weeks, his group would initiate an attack against the “Israeli occupation, and not remain on the defensive.”

The report of the Izzadin a-Kassam leader’s alleged plans comes after Brig.-Gen. Moshe (Chico) Tamir, head of the Gaza Division, said Monday that Hamas was trying to establish a bunker system as well as fortified rocket-launching and surveillance positions along the security fence with the Gaza Strip.

“They are trying to dig tunnels, build surveillance positions and mortar-fire stations along the fence,” Tamir told reporters during a briefing concerning the death of IDF reservist Ehud Efrati during clashes with Hamas gunmen early Monday morning. “They are trying to build this up and we are trying to stop them.”

Unless Israel strikes first:

“Every day that passes brings us closer to a broad operation in Gaza,” [Defense Minister Ehud] Barak told Army Radio.

“We are not happy to do it, we’re not rushing to do it, and we’ll be happy if circumstances succeed in preventing it,” he said. “But the time is approaching when we’ll have to undertake a broad operation in Gaza.” — Jerusalem Post

Although it is possible that someday Israel will find a modus vivendi with the majority of Palestinians and even her Arab neighbors, it will never, ever come to one with Hamas, whose reason for being is to destroy Israel. Since there is no reason to believe that Hamas will wither away by itself — it’s well nourished by Israel’s enemies — then war is a certainty.

The Israeli leadership needs to understand that in addition to the physical combat, there will be a media war that will be as important or more so. Although Israel will have military superiority, she will be fighting the information battles at a huge disadvantage — because of previous failures in this realm.

Hamas almost certainly will deploy battalions of media relations experts. They will spin every incident, invent massacres that didn’t happen, and “kill” hundreds of Mohammed al-Duras. Their propaganda commandos will perform audacious acts like recycling already-dead bodies from morgues and creating non-existent hospitals that they can accuse Israel of having bombed. All of these seeds will fall onto the fertile fields of reporters from the UK Guardian, AFP, NPR, the BBC, CNN, and so forth, where they will sprout into media disasters.

To coin a phrase, winning physically isn’t everything — the ultimate outcome will depend in great measure on the virtual war, its effect on opinion and ultimately the policies of the major players on the world stage.

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