Who Won the Last Israel-Gaza War?

In February, Israeli authorities arrested a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader named Khader Adnan in the West Bank. He soon went on a hunger strike, leading to his death by starvation on May 2—to which PIJ, based in the Gaza Strip, responded by launching over 100 rockets at Israeli civilians. On May 9, after careful planning, the IDF conducted a 72-hour assault on Gaza, destroying PIJ and Hamas military infrastructure. Eado Hecht explains that this campaign must be understood through the lens of the West Bank:

The Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority has reduced its operations against Palestinian perpetrators of violence against Israelis. The majority of attackers over the past year have been Fatah proxies, whether organized in new groups (such as the Lions’ Den) or operating as “lone wolves”—i.e., individuals who have been incited to attack Israelis by official propaganda (Fatah-controlled news media, religious sermons, and school education programs) but are not officially affiliated with any organization.

Israel responded by stepping up counterterrorism operations in the West Bank. In Operation Breakwater, Israeli forces began routinely to enter sovereign Palestinian areas in raids to arrest or kill terrorists identified by Israeli intelligence whom the Palestinian security forces refused to arrest. Most of these raids face violent resistance involving firearms, grenades, improvised explosive devices, and so on. The Israeli raids have gradually captured or killed numerous Palestinian Islamic Jihad personnel, as well as many other terrorists.

Stopping these raids, and continuing to foment violence in Judea and Samaria, was the ultimate goal of PIJ’s missile strikes, Hecht argues:

Only time will tell if the Israeli military success will be translated into a long-term ceasefire with Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza. The group’s casualties were not catastrophic for an organization with approximately 10,000 personnel, but with six commanders killed plus two commanders killed in Operation Breaking Dawn nearly ten months ago (together with at least ten other combatants in that operation), its military leadership has been mauled. It has also lost a considerable portion of its weaponry and weapons-manufacturing infrastructure,  though it still has enough to renew the fighting.

Meanwhile, the goal set by Palestinian Islamic Jihad in both the escalations—to deter Israel from continuing Operation Breakwater in the West Bank—has not been achieved.

Read more at BESA Center

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

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

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