August 29, 2014

Bibi Lost the Battle - But Israel can Win the War

As yesterday's "open-ended ceasefire" between Israel and Gazan terrorist groups finally took effect, it was clear that the Islamists, led by Hamas, had suffered a serious humiliation.

From the rubble of Gaza, all the false and painfully predictable bravado could not disguise the fact that Hamas had gone from brazenly rejecting a return to the terms of the 2012 ceasefire which followed Operation Pillar of Defense, to running back to the negotiating table with its tail between its legs to accept an identical proposal just weeks later.

Those familiar with the comical propensity of Arab leaders to miraculously convert military defeat into glorious success know that even if he had been the only man left standing in Gaza, Mahmoud al-Zahar would have given the very same victory speech - and his boss, Khaled Meshaal, would still have maintained his stubborn insistence that Hamas keep on fighting, sitting far from the battlefield in the comfort of Qatar.

50 days of fighting cost the lives of 2,144 Gazans (according to Hamas's own estimates), roughly half of them terrorists, and in a ground operation which lasted just two weeks the IDF succeeded in destroying more than 30 "terror tunnels" into Israel which had taken Hamas two years, and a huge price in both blood and treasure, to construct. Not to mention the massive damage wrought to the military and civilian infrastructure in Gaza - which were often one and the same thing thanks to Hamas and Islamic Jihad's cynical use of human shields - by a blistering campaign of airstrikes.

The extent of Operation Protective Edge - which surpassed both Pillar of Defense and Cast Lead in its scope and severity - took both groups by surprise, as did the effectiveness of the Iron Dome missile defense system, which was nothing short of miraculous. But what shook them the most was Israel's ability to assassinate some of their top leaders (that is, those who weren't cowering under Shifa Hospital in Gaza). 

Just how shaken they were could be seen in the aftermath of Israel's strike, late last week, which eliminated three senior leaders of Hamas's military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades. The assassination triggered a hysterical response, with Gaza's Islamist rulers summarily executing more than 25 suspected informants and arresting at least 150 others in a desperate bid to discover how on earth Israel had managed to locate and kill them as they met in a top secret bunker some 30 meters underground. And yet, just days later, Hamas's top financial official was eliminated as well.

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