ANALYSIS: If it's over now Hamas wins Gaza war. Islamic group emerges as major diplomatic player, establishes deterrence



by Aaron Klein

TEL AVIV — Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip may have had the unintended consequence of turning Hamas into a player on the international diplomatic scene. In the grand scheme of things, while both sides sustained losses and advanced some gains, if the fighting is truly over today Hamas emerges the victor of this latest conflict.

While Hamas was firing rockets into central Israeli population centers, the group’s politburo chief Kheled Meshaal was in Cairo negotiating a cease fire through Egypt with both U.S. and Israeli officials. This after Israel and the Obama administration previously pledged against such dialogue with Hamas unless the Islamic group first recognized the Jewish state and renounced violence.

During the height of the fighting, multiple Arab delegations from Sudan through the Arab League through even the U.S.-aided Iraqi government went on solidarity visits to Hamas in Gaza. This was not the diplomatic scene during previous Israeli operations of either Gaza or the Fatah-dominated West Bank.

The fighting further served to solidify Hamas’s position as the dominant Palestinian faction waging jihad against Israel, relegating Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the role of bystander from his isolated compound in Ramallah, where he occasionally spattered off anti-Israel rhetoric to keep himself relevant.

This theme may help explain why Abbas’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades was quick to take credit for today’s bus bombing in Tel Aviv. The attack may have served as Fatah’s last-minute attempt to insert itself into the Israel-Hamas war.

To be sure, Hamas this last week suffered a major blow to its terrorist and military infrastructure inside Gaza. Yet throughout Israel’s campaign, Hamas was able to sustain daily rocketing of Israel’s central and southern population centers, including for the first time firing rockets into Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

That rocket fire establishes a new deterrent posture for Hamas, with Tel Avivians and Jerusalemites understanding that any future military incursion into Gaza will result in missiles at Israel’s major population centers and not just the Jewish communities outside Gaza.

Just as it did after Israel’s 2008 war in Gaza, Hamas will now set out to the tasks of rearming itself and rebuilding its destroyed infrastructure in Gaza, no doubt with help from its Iranian patrons.

While an initial cease fire was reached today, the agreement only serves as the basis for further talks between Israel and Hamas on such issues as the status of borders and international involvement in the region.

According to Middle East security sources familiar with the particulars of the continued, long term truce being discussed, the issues that are near agreement include:

1) Hamas would get a permanent official presence at the Rafah Border Crossing, which lies on the international border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Until now, officially the Palestinian Authority and Egypt largely controlled the crossing, although on the ground Hamas has been involved in monitoring and controlling the area.

2) Hamas is asking for international guarantees against a further Israeli military incursion inside the Gaza Strip under the condition rocket attacks from the territory cease. Any such deal would likely enhance Hamas’s diplomatic position internationally.

3) Israel is demanding a 30 meter buffer zone along the Gaza Strip border with the Jewish state. Such a buffer could be important in stopping cross border attacks, but would not affect Hamas’s ability to fire rockets into Israel since most rockets are fired from deep inside Gaza.

4) Israel is demanding a total halt to rocket attacks from Gaza.

5) Hamas is demanding an end to Israel’s naval and land blockade of the Gaza Strip. This is a point that Israel will likely not cede. However, the security sources said Israel is ready to scale back parts of the blockade after a period of quiet to be determined. Israel says it maintains the blockade to ensure against weapons smuggling into Gaza.

  • Hermen

    So everyone but Hillary and Obama knows that Hamas will rearm and try again. This is so retarded! Israel needs to invade and occupy anyone who does this….PERIOD. And yes, Iran was simply probing for intelligence, but NO>>>>ISRAEL DOESN’T need to wait for Iran to deploy on the basis of that intelligence.

  • A Canadian Israeli

    Just over 2 hours after the “cease fire” went into affect and only 15 rockets fired from Gaza. Does this diplomacy stuff work, or what!?

  • George Whitten

    While I agree with what you said, this isn’t a “war” — it’s merely a battle in the grand scheme of things because the real war is coming. If Netanyahu went into Gaza now, without a public mandate (only 22% wanted to go into Gaza) and there may have been lot of casualties then his election prospects in the future would have been weakened and the possibility of a leftist govt in the upcoming elections would have been more disastrous in the grander war upcoming with Iran. By conceding now, Netanyahu has the support of the public and perhaps gains between 45-50 seats in the upcoming election. If so, then he’ll have the mandate to deal with the bigger problem — Iran. So while we “lost” the battle — the REAL war looms ahead.

  • David Wall

    Today a Bus blew up on King Shaul Street as the PM was discussing a cease fire.
    Clearly they are following King Shaul by ignoring Hashem and trying to be pragmatic.
    This will only lead to more disaster and blow up in their faces.
    We need leaders who follow King David and follow Hashem.

    Support Moshe Feiglin for Knesset this Sunday

  • littlebytes

    I agree with your analysis and appreciate your insight.

    Sadly, in a sign of weakness,Netanyahu has been pressured into standing down and bribed by Obama that they will get more funding for Iron domes and other military defense. Arming themselves is great, but they need to end the problem and cut the head of the snake…get rid of Hamas once and for all! This shows weakness, especially on a day that terrorists bombed a bus in Israel, near IDF headquarters!

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  • Richard

    Well done analysis. Hard to argue. As much as we hate war, it seems like another – big one – is coming and that will be the only way to stop these the tyrants. Now, back to Iran……