Israel Thought It Had Deterred Hamas, While in Fact Hamas Had Deterred Israel

Last week, Assaf Orion came on our podcast to speak about the IDF’s air campaign in Gaza. In this essay, Orion takes a careful look at how Israel underestimated its vulnerability to Hamas, and how Jerusalem should imagine its strategic goals. He begins by looking at how strategists failed to draw the correct lessons from the many short wars with Hamas between 2006 and May 2023:

In each of these operations, it became clear that Hamas was acquiring stronger and better weapons, including longer-range rockets with larger warheads, along with drones that could pose aerial and naval threats. It was also apparent that Hamas was building a large and increasingly sophisticated network of underground tunnels. During each conflict, Hamas did its best to punch through Israel’s defenses and reach the communities around Gaza’s border. But . . . Hamas operations mostly failed—on the ground, underground, in the air, and at sea.

Despite Hamas’s growing capabilities, these failures convinced Israel that its defense strategy was working: Hamas was unable to strike Israel’s population effectively; and it faced significant retribution for attempting such strikes and could be rewarded with material support for keeping calm. Israeli officials also concluded that trying to destroy Hamas’s forces outright would be too costly and might create dangerous new problems. . . . But this approach also allowed Hamas, supported by Qatar, to acquire the resources it needed to transform its military into a highly capable army of terror.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security


Ordinary Gazans Are Turning against Hamas—and Its Western Sympathizers

In the past few days, difficult-to-confirm reports have emerged of unrest in the Gaza Strip, and of civilians throwing stones at Hamas operatives. A recent video from Al Jazeera showed a Gazan declaring that “God will bring Qatar and Turkey to account” for the suffering of Palestinians in the current war. Being an agent of the Qatari government, the journalist turned away, and then pushed the interviewee with his hand to prevent him from getting near the microphone. Yet this brief exchange contributes much to the ongoing debate about Palestinian support for Hamas, and belies the frequent assertion by experts that the Israeli campaign is only “further radicalizing” the population.

For some time, Joseph Braude has worked with a number of journalists and researchers to interview ordinary Gazans under circumstances where they don’t fear reprisals. He notes that the sorts of opinions they share are rarely heard in Western media, let alone on Al Jazeera or Iran-sponsored outlets:

[A] resident of Khan Younis describes how locals in a bakery spontaneously attacked a Hamas member who had come to buy bread. The incident, hardly imaginable before the present war, reflects a widespread feeling of “disgust,” he says, after Gazan aspirations for “a dignified life and to live in peace” were set back by the Hamas atrocities of October 7.

Fears have grown that this misery will needlessly be prolonged by Westerners who strive, in effect, to perpetuate Hamas rule, according to one Gazan woman. Addressing protesters who have taken to the streets to demand a ceasefire on behalf of Palestinians, she calls on them to make a choice: “Either support the Palestinian people or the Hamas regime that oppresses them.” If protesters harbor a humanitarian motive, she asks, “Why don’t we see them demonstrating against Hamas?”

“Hamas is the destruction of the Palestinian people. We’ve had enough. They need to be wiped out—because if they remain, the people will be wiped out.”

You can watch videos of some of the interviews by clicking the link below.

Read more at Free Press

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion