Does Israel Have the Resolve to Vanquish Hamas?

by Jerry Gordon (Jan.2009)

how important this operation was:

Nor did Barak leave out the possibility of ground operations in Gaza, despite the possible escalation in both Israeli and Palestinian casualties:

If the goals of the operation will not be achieved by airstrikes, we will have to consider boots on the ground.

reaction of Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal in Damascus and embattled Hamas spokesmen in Gaza were what you might expect:

[He] does not think any country would find it acceptable to have missiles raining down on the heads of their citizens.

Obama has deferred to the outgoing Bush Administration and not commented on this current Israeli operation. White House Deputy Press spokesperson, Gordon Johnroe issued this statement over the weekend about the violence in Gaza:

Hamas’ continued rocket attacks into Israel must cease if the violence is to stop. Hamas must end its terrorist activities if it wishes to play a role in the future of the Palestinian people.

The United States urges Israel to avoid civilian casualties as it targets Hamas in Gaza.

On the fourth day of the Israeli operations when British, French, Russian and UN Security Council raised increasing demands for an immediate cease fire, Johnroe issued this further statement from President Bush’s Crawford Ranch in Texas:

While the US would like to see an end to the Israeli
offensive in Gaza, Hamas would first have to stop firing rockets at Israel.

The US does not want to see a ceasefire “which isn’t worth the paper it’s written on,” but rather a long-term, sustainable truce. He then went on to advise reporters to take the reports coming out of Gaza regarding the numbers of casualties with a grain of salt, adding that numbers aside, both sides know what has to be done to end the conflict. Hamas, he said should stop firing rockets, thereby eliminating Israel’s need to defend its citizens from rocket fire.

Financial Times in an

The disproportionate scale of Israeli air strikes, in response to the pinprick provocations of the home-made rockets fired from Gaza at southern Israeli is less surprising. It fits the Israeli doctrine of overwhelming force, which on Saturday claimed the highest number of Palestinian lives in a single day since Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 Six Day War.

Clearly, the
Financial Times editorial writers forgot that Israel ended the 38 year ‘occupation’ of Gaza in 2005 and that Hamas ousted the Palestinian Authority and Fatah in a coup in June 2007.

In an Israel Project news conference on Monday, December 29th, Mark Regev, International Media Advisor to outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who leaves office after a general election on February 10th, outlined the media strategy of the Israeli government in launching Operation Cast Lead,

  • Hamas has copied Hezbollah vis a vis the fortification of weapons and goods smuggling tunnels bestride the Gaza border with Egypt that were hit hard by the IAF.

Suleiman accused “Meshal’s gang” – a reference to the Damascus-based head of Hamas’ political bureau, Khaled Meshal – of behaving arrogantly toward Egypt, and added that there was no choice but “to educate the Hamas leadership – even in Damascus.”

Reuters today reported that PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas said that “Palestinians could have avoided the Gaza massacre.” Israel radio this morning also reported Saudi official criticism of Hamas as quoted in the UK based Al Sharq al Awsat. I had noted in my post of December 18 that Iran and Hamas are also scaring the Saudis.

Mohammad Abdallah Al Zulfa, member of the Saudi Shoura Council said on the Alhurra Arabic TV news program on December 17 that “Iran is the big threat in today’s world, supporting all the terrorists from Hamas to Hezbollah to some other terrorists that we don’t know their names yet” and “Iran destabilized the region by supporting all the illegal activities and activists such as Hamas.”

What’s clear to the Egyptians, the Palestinian Fatah leadership, the Saudis and the GCC states is that Israel’s current war to neutralize the Hamas threat also sets back Iran’s aggressive project to reshape the Arab Middle East in its image.

Against this roiling background, Israel began to roll out its media strategy. The IDF took the unusual step of posting videos of operations and commentary on
American Voices in Israel (AVI) of the Council of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (COPMAJO) headed by executive chairman, Malcolm Hoenlein.

remarks after a closed cabinet meeting as to why they rejected the cease fire proposal:

The chief of Israel’s internal security services, Yuval Diskin, told Cabinet ministers that Hamas’ ability to rule had been “badly impaired.” Weapons development facilities have been “completely wiped out,” and the network of smuggling tunnels has been badly damaged, a participant in the meeting quoted Diskin as saying.

Underlying the Israeli decision to keep fighting are the more powerful weapons that Hamas has smuggled into Gaza through underground tunnels along the border with Egypt.

There is a term in slangy military Hebrew borrowed from the Russian: ‘balagan.’ It means ‘chaos’ or ‘screw up’. Operation Cast Lead in Gaza is being conducted by an incompetent politician, Ehud Olmert, who will be out of office in 41 days given the general election on February 10th. Will Operation Cast Lead become another ‘screw up’ akin to the disastrous Second Lebanon War? We certainly hope that is not the case and that IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and outgoing Defense Minister Barak have their playbook laid out to achieve the mission this time.

Ted Belman, editor of the blog
Israpundit, in the midst of this unfolding conflict, noted that Israel may have to fight two battles with terrorist armies, one in Gaza and the other with Hezbollah in Lebanon. He noted that if Israel succeeded on both fronts it would send a telling message to the Mullahs and President Ahmadinejad in Tehran and President Assad in Damascus that they had best think twice about their nuclear programs.

So, we wait to see how this latest Israeli effort to vanquish Hamas turns out. In the days and weeks ahead, we will see whether Israel’s political and military leaders have learned their lessons well and are better prepared now to ultimately vanquish Hamas.  

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