Israel’s Campaign in Gaza Has Been a Success, but Won’t Achieve a Decisive Victory

Since Israel launched Operation Shield and Arrow on Tuesday, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) has fired over 800 rockets into the southern and central parts of the country—killing at least one, wounding several, and causing extensive damage. The IDF undertook the operation after the Iran-backed organization launched a barrage of 102 rockets at Israeli towns and villages last week. Thus far, Jerusalem has killed at least three senior PIJ commanders and destroyed numerous rocket-launching facilities. Yoav Limor takes stock, and draws some conclusions:

First: while Israel should not be itching for a fight in Gaza, it doesn’t need to shy away from it, especially when a small and brazen organization like PIJ is the provocateur. The organization has tried to create linkage between Judea and Samaria, on the one hand, and the Gaza Strip on the other, so that any deadly Israeli raid against terrorists in the West Bank would automatically lead to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. Israel has now put a big flashing sign over that idea, sending the message that if it does not disabuse itself of that idea it will have to pay a price.

[Another] conclusion is that despite its inflammatory rhetoric, Hamas seeks to avoid a confrontation at present. To be more precise: it doesn’t want to be dragged into one by PIJ. Hamas, if and when it decides to enter the fray, will do it for its own reasons and at an opportune moment. This could happen sooner than we think—perhaps in response to the upcoming flag march to celebrate Jerusalem’s reunification next week. . . . If Israel acts wisely, . . . Hamas will prefer to keep things calm in the Gaza Strip and to continue building up its capabilities rather than be consumed by warfare.

[Finally], the overall fundamentals will not have changed even after the operation is over. Those on the Israeli side who gloated that we have managed to change the equation are advised to think again: this is the third time in three years that Israel has carried out this type of operation against PIJ. This means that any deterrent effect is short-lived and needs routine maintenance.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israeli Security, Palestinian Islamic Jihad

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy