The balance of power between Israel and the Iranian proxy entities of Hamas and Hezbollah had been turning relentlessly against Israel for some time, until recently.
Every time that Israel allowed the terrorists to strike with relative impunity — every time the response was ‘proportionate’ — Hamas and Hezbollah gained support among Palestinians and respect in the world as a whole (because, no matter what they say, even overcivilized Europeans love a winner).
Every time there is a lopsided exchange like the disastrous trade with Hezbollah that freed the despicable child-killer Samir Kuntar, the status of the terrorists rose and Israel’s deterrence dropped. Look at how Kuntar was (literally) embraced by most Arab leaders!
Now Israel seems to be saying “enough is enough” and is striking hard at Hamas. And it is still not playing by its enemies’ evil rules — what Thomas Friedman called “Hama rules” after the erasure of the Syrian city of Hama and the murder of most of its inhabitants by Hafez al-Assad — and is taking great care to avoid harming civilians.
However, it is still possible for Israel to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, as Caroline Glick points out clearly today. Israel has killed some 300-odd Hamas personnel out of an army of at least 10,000, possibly 20,000. Israel has destroyed huge stocks of weapons, numerous buildings and some smuggling tunnels, but given the right conditions, Hamas could re-arm quickly, just as Hezbollah did since 2006.
If, as Glick fears, Israel is prepared to accept a settlement — such as is proposed by the Israel-hostile EU — that allows Hamas to control access to Gaza by sea or does not adequately secure the Egyptian border, or, God forbid, implements a UNIFIL-like force to protect Hamas while it rearms, as the UN has done for Hezbollah — then Israel will have lost the war as surely as if Haniyeh’s forces had taken Tel Aviv.
The missiles may stop falling for now, and the Israeli government will say that its aims have been achieved. Hamas, of course, will celebrate triumphantly amid the ruins of buildings Israel bombed while they were empty, and set to work rebuilding their capability, like Hezbollah, to an even higher level.
There is only one way for Israel to win this war and that is to destroy Hamas’ ability to fight, now and in the future. That will mean that Israel must completely cut the supply lines under the Egyptian border, something that cannot be done from the air, and keep them cut. And it must remove the Hamas leadership to a much greater degree than it has done so far. And finally, it must neutralize the Hamas army, which has remained almost entirely untouched.
Unfortunately, this means that a lot more blood will have to flow before this is over, Palestinian and Israeli blood. But if it doesn’t flow now, it will certainly flow later.
Tzipi Livni is presently in Paris. Let’s hope she is telling the Europeans thanks, but no thanks. Israel must not give up diplomatically what it can and must win militarily.
Finish the job.