To Hamas, War May Be the Best Option

Since the end of last week, Israel has been concentrating troops and supplies along its border with the Gaza Strip, likely in anticipation of further provocations by Hamas, which has organized violent demonstrations there every Friday for several months. Vivian Bercovici comments:

The loss of life that ebbs and flows on these Fridays following afternoon prayers is unfortunate but inevitable. Though these Hamas hoodlums do not pose an existential threat to the state of Israel, they absolutely do to the tens of thousands of Israelis living in communities along the border. And then there are the arson kites, a Hamas innovation that has burned approximately 10,000 acres of agricultural land and nature preserves in Israel in the last six months. . . .

Yet, in an unprecedented and extraordinary interview with the Italian journalist Francesca Borri and published [Friday] in an Israeli newspaper, Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s political leader in Gaza, dismissed the arson attacks as mere “messages” causing no real harm. But Sinwar and his crew have been ramping things up along the border recently, sending boys to toss grenades, Molotov cocktails, and other crude incendiary devices at the IDF soldiers. They’ve also been active at night and early morning, causing the IDF to go on high alert.

This is textbook Hamas. They are being squeezed on multiple fronts and the only way to take control, in their playbook, is to invite war. During his interviews with Borri, which took place at various locations in Gaza over a five-day period. Sinwar was adamant that Hamas wants peace, but that outcome is possible only on his terms. Those terms—that Hamas should retain a military force and all borders must be opened unconditionally—are absurd. . . .

It’s such ham-handed propaganda that it almost hurts to read this clumsy attempt to influence Israeli and world public opinion. Sinwar wants war because it’s the only option he has. . . . It’s the last, most reliable way to distract the miserable masses from Hamas’s failure to govern.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security

 

Israel Should Try to Defang Hamas without Toppling It

Feb. 22 2019

For the time being, Hamas has chosen to avoid outright war with the Jewish state, but instead to apply sustained, low-intensity pressure through its weekly border riots and organizing terrorist cells in the West Bank. Yet it is simultaneously engaged in a major military build-up, which suggests that it has not entirely been deterred by the previous three Gaza wars. Yaakov Lappin considers Jerusalem’s options:

In recent years, the Israel Defense Force’s southern command, which is responsible for much of the war planning for Gaza, identified a long-term truce as the best of bad options for Israel. This is based on the understanding that an Israeli invasion of Gaza and subsequent destruction of the Hamas regime would leave Israel in the unenviable position of being directly in charge of some two-million mostly hostile Gazans. This could lead to an open-ended and draining military occupation. . . .

Alternatively, Israel could demolish the Hamas regime and leave Gaza, putting it on a fast track to a “Somalia model” of anarchy and violence. In that scenario, . . . multiple jihadist armed gangs lacking a central ruling structure would appear, and Israel would be unable to project its military might to any single “return address” in Gaza. This would result in a loss of Israel’s deterrent force on Gaza to keep the region calm. This scenario would be considerably worse than the current status quo.

But a third option, in between the options of leaving Gaza as it is and toppling Hamas in a future war, may exist. In this scenario, the IDF would decimate Hamas’s military wing in any future conflict but leave its political wing and police force in place. This would enable a rapid Israeli exit after a war, but avoid a Somalia-like fate for Gaza with its destructive implications for both Israelis and Gazans. . . .

On the one hand, Hamas’s police force is an intrinsic support system for Gaza’s terrorist-guerrilla forces. On the other hand, the police and domestic-security units play a genuine role in keeping order. Such forces have been used to repress Islamic State-affiliated cells that challenge Hamas’s rule. . . . Compared to the alternative scenarios of indefinite occupation or the “Somalia scenario,” a weakened Hamas might be the best and most realistic option.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security