Israel cannot live with Hamas

News item:

Fear of a weak cease-fire agreement which would work to the advantage of Hamas led a majority of ministers to express their support on Tuesday for escalated measures to end the threat of rocket attacks to southern Israel, with many of them calling for the launch of a wide-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip…

Meanwhile, defense officials said Monday night that during a security meeting following the cabinet meeting, Defense Minister Ehud Barak would push for a “medium-level military operation” in Gaza before agreeing to an Egyptian-brokered truce with Hamas…

According to the sources, Barak plans to ask Olmert to approve an operation that would make Hamas “pay a price,” and only afterwards agree to a cease-fire.

Here is the scenario I expect:

  1. The IDF mounts a limited operation into Gaza, suffers some casualties overcoming Hamas fortifications.
  2. Hamas screams bloody murder, claims huge civilian casualties. They are already preparing the ground for this with the US and other players.
  3. The US forces Israel to withdraw before even the limited operation meets its goals.
  4. Israel agrees to cease-fire with only slightly damaged Hamas. No effective guarantee against arms smuggling is implemented (because the only effective one is Israeli control of Egyptian border).
  5. Hamas claims victory, continues to arm, Israel is limited in possible responses by terms of cease-fire.

There are even worse scenarios, including international involvement in the terms of the cease-fire, which could make them even worse for Israel. Certainly Hamas will insist on opening crossings, prisoner releases, etc.

There is only one solution to Hamas, and that is a large operation that will destroy it as a functioning organism. Yes it will be hard, yes it will have unpleasant consequences, yes Israel will also have to worry about Hezbollah, etc.

There is a fallacy I recall from a basic logic course, called argumentum ad consequentiam. It means arguing that “If P is true, then that will be very bad. So P is false”. Baldly stated it looks foolish, but how many times have you heard “the negotiations must succeed — there’s no alternative”?

Or, in this case, “We can live with Hamas, because the alternative is war”. But can Israel live with Hamas?

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