The era of tough love

Israeli tanks leave Gaza

Israeli tanks leave Gaza after Cast Lead

The Gaza War, Operation Cast Lead, is history. Israel is rapidly pulling out its troops, saying that they will be out by the time Barack Obama is sworn in as President of the US.

Wait a minute. Reread the sentence above. Hold that thought.

Israel ended the operation early, while Hamas still had the ability to fire rockets (indeed, rockets were fired after the truce went into effect). Estimates vary, but a significant part of the Sinai Subway — Hamas’ smuggling route under the Egyptian border — is still operational. The IDF killed several hundred of Hamas’ estimated 20,000 soldiers and a few of its commanders, and destroyed large numbers of buildings and large amounts of weapons and supplies.

In a remarkably dubious statement, Israeli officials said that the operation “created ‘better conditions’ for negotiations over the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit”.

Better? Can you imagine that the Hamas which is claiming victory and accepting congratulations from its patron Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will demand a lower price now? Why should it? Israel’s done her worst and Hamas is still standing.

Gaza is a mess. Now it will be rebuilt, and of course so will Hamas’ capabilities. The vague Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni brought back from Washington is a joke, a piece of paper that is only as good the desire of US allies, including Egypt, which has already refused to allow foreign troops in her territory, to take concrete steps to stop weapons smuggling. Who will confront Hamas, any more than the UN confronted Hezbollah in Lebanon?

The question which I kept asking myself as this played out was why. Why did Israel bring an operation that was successfully progressing, with (despite the worldwide pro-Hamas propaganda campaign) a not-unreasonable number of IDF and civilian casualties, to a premature end? Why did Israel stop before Hamas headquarters was penetrated, before Schalit was rescued, before the tunnels were destroyed, even before the rockets stopped falling? What did Israel have to lose? No matter what she did, the media would continue to accuse her of the bloodiest campaign since Genghis Khan.

I believe that the answer lies in the first sentence of this post. I believe that when Livni went to Washington supposedly for that silly MOU she got something else as well: an ultimatum from the new administration that the IDF had better be out before the inauguration, or else.

Now the people who have all along been blaming ‘Israeli intransigence’ for the intractability of the conflict, like Gen. James Jones and Dan Kurtzer,  are getting their chance to make policy. After a while they will learn the real reason: the Arab-Persian refusal to countenance any Jewish state, regardless of borders, in the Middle East. Too bad their education will be paid for in Israeli blood.

Welcome to the Obama Administration, the era of ‘tough love’.

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