As I have written time and again, there’s no way to talk with Hamas. The very raison d’etre of Hamas is the destruction of Israel and a genocidal program against the Jews therein. Negotiations would only bring Hamas closer to international legitimacy and recognition, one of its major short-term goals, and a cease-fire would only give it breathing space to develop their capabilities for the ultimate conflict.
Recently, concrete missile-launching silos able to hold Qassams and the larger, more dangerous Russian Grad missiles were discovered in Gaza. There will be a war between Israel and Hamas; the question is when, and on whose terms.
Ami Isseroff, certainly not what anyone would call a hawk, has written an incisive analysis of Israel’s options. He writes,
Hamas is a threat at many levels, not just to Israel, but to the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, the American sponsored peace process and Arab world moderates. Hamas is a strategic threat to Israel. For any such threat, one has to decide whether to contain it and last it out, as the US did with the USSR, or to confront it decisively and eliminate it, as was done with Nazi Germany. If the latter decision is made, the only acceptable “agreement” is unconditional surrender, and the only open option is total war. Hamas will not listen to “persuasion” and half-measures will only make it stronger. [my emphasis]
Isseroff also points out, however, that a unilateral attack by Israel could end in disaster without at least tacit international support:
In order to carry out such an operation, IDF needs time. It cannot be interrupted by UN [or US — ed.] imposed cease fires that leave the other side in a position to recover. It must not be forced to leave Gaza before the Hamas movement is eradicated in the same way that the National Socialist Workers Party was destroyed in Germany after World War II. That is why the international position must be well prepared before any action is taken.
So it’s clear that Israel should begin now both to prepare the IDF for the coming conflict and to lay the diplomatic groundwork for it.
Egypt and possibly other conservative Arab governments view the Muslim Brotherhood-allied Hamas as a threat. And possibly the West is finally beginning to understand that radical Islam really does endanger our idea of civilization. So maybe there is a possibility that the diplomatic part of the struggle will succeed.
I’ll add that it’s also necessary for the public relations arms of the government to be prepared and to have the appropriate resources allocated to deal with the flood of misinformation, fake atrocity stories, invented ‘massacres’ and ‘humanitarian crises’ that will come from Hamas and friends during the war. Israel lost this part of the battle badly in Lebanon in 2006 and this must not be permitted to happen again. There are people that understand the concept of information warfare on our side, too. They must be used.
Of course, the management of an integrated diplomatic, information, and military offensive will require a competent and dedicated government. In addition, it must be able to pursue a very difficult course without being derailed by domestic political opposition. Israel does not have such a government today.
There is also the need for full support from the US, by no means a given these days.
Finally, the question of what to do with Gaza once Hamas has been crushed isn’t simple. The last thing Israel needs is to be responsible for another 1.4 million hostile Arabs.