Preparing for the Next Gaza War

January 10, 2022 | Mark Regev
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As much as Israeli politicians and Western diplomats hope that Israel and Hamas can find a political solution to their ongoing conflict, Mark Regev argues that such an outcome is unlikely, if not impossible, for several reasons. Among them:

First, it is unclear to what degree Hamas is willing to prioritize the well-being of ordinary Gazans over its ideological commitment to “resistance.” . . . Second, even if Hamas agrees to keep the Israel-Gaza frontier quiet, it is unlikely to abstain from encouraging and orchestrating deadly violence on the West Bank. A “ceasefire” in which Hamas continues terror attacks from Hebron, Jenin, and Tulkarm would be unsustainable.

Third, Hamas can be expected to exploit any ceasefire to strengthen its military capabilities both quantitatively and qualitatively. Hence the danger that short-term quiet is purchased by the creation of a more formidable long-term threat.

Fourth, two live Israeli civilians and the bodies of two IDF soldiers are being held in Gaza. Lapid stated that “bringing back our boys must be part of any plan.” Yet it is doubtful that Hamas will agree to their return outside a deal which includes the release of Palestinian security prisoners. An exchange of this sort is always a highly complex exercise.

But does this mean the situation is hopeless, and Israelis must accept sporadic rocket fire as a constant reality, and Gazans intermittent IDF airstrikes? Not quite, writes Regev:

[A] pessimistic belief in the inevitability of an imminent Gaza war is unwarranted. On Benjamin Netanyahu’s watch, seven years of relative quiet separated Operation Protective Edge from Operation Guardian of the Walls. Through an astute strategy of deterrence and incentives it is not impossible to postpone a future round of fighting, maybe even for another seven years. Ultimately, in the absence of complete solutions, if the next serious escalation occurs on or close to 2028, most Israelis could view that as not so bad an outcome.

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