What Israel Accomplished in Gaza, and What It Should Seek Next

In the wee hours of yesterday morning, the IDF carried out simultaneous targeted attacks on Gaza, killing three senior commanders of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). It followed up with further airstrikes on terrorist infrastructure in the Strip. Last week, PIJ launched 102 rockets into southern Israel, and then agreed to a ceasefire after limited Israeli retaliation. Meir Ben Shabbat comments:

Israel has achieved its initial goals in its current operation against PIJ, code-named Operation Shield and Arrow. The Jewish state restored its deterrence against the radical terror organization, while demonstrating that the ongoing internal political debates will not prevent it from taking determined action against external enemies. However, the hostilities in Gaza, which began with targeted strikes against three PIJ leaders last night, have the potential to expand and inflame multiple arenas. Israel therefore must take several steps now to ensure that this operation remains a success.

In analyzing Israel’s latest strikes, it is important to recall that PIJ . . . is one of Iran’s main proxies in the region, funded by Iran to the tune of millions of dollars a year.

A PIJ response to last night’s targeted strikes against its leaders and military sites is a certainty. It will likely come once its remaining commanders have had a chance to go underground. The questions that remain are whether Hamas, the largest terror organization in Gaza, will join in the fighting, and whether PIJ will be able to expand the hostilities to other geographic arenas.

At this point, Israel must focus on several goals. Operation Shield and Arrow must end with PIJ not only having suffered major losses, but having failed to reach any significant achievements in its attacks against Israel. That will diminish its standing and deter it from conducting future attacks. . . . Secondly, Israel must make clear to PIJ that any attempts to expand the circle of fighting to other arenas will greatly increase the severity of Israel’s response.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza Strip, 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