The Israeli Defense Forces are one of the most powerful and well trained militaries in the world. Equipped with high-tech weaponry that would make even a superpower like the United States green with envy, the IDF are a force to be reckoned with on any battlefield. Israel’s enemies in Gaza, Hamas, are an internationally recognized terrorist organization. Funded by Turkey, Qatar and Iran (as well as the UN, US and EU), Hamas has – over the past 20+ years – transormed themselves from the ragtag band of terrorists into the government of a quasi-state in Gaza. Hamastan, as it is sometimes referred to, has leveraged those polotical gains into increased military and terror capacity. They are armed to the teeth and highly motivated towards their stated goals of killing the Jews, dismantling the state of Israel and replacing it with an Islamic caliphate. Despite their vastly increased military capabilities, Hamas is no match, militarily, for the IDF. How, then, has Hamas managed, time and time again, to fight the world’s best army to a draw?
Assymetric warfare is the name of the game. For Israel, anything less than total victory is a defeat, whereas Hamas (and terrorists in general) “win” just through the fact that they live to fight another day. Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s current battle against Hamas, appears to be drawing to a close as the parties are negotiating a “long term cease fire” agreement in Egypt. This represents just another instance of history repeating itself in this bloody Middle Eastern cycle. When Israel embarked on Operation Cast Lead in 2008, Hamas rockets had already been bombarding southern Israeli cities and towns with rockets for 7 years. At the time, those rockets were mostly crude and homemade. They were as likely to backfire on the terrorists firing them as they were to land on their targets. Today, two cease fires later, Hamas’ arsenal has been vastly improved. Rockets fired from Gaza threaten 5 million civillians in all of Israel’s major population centers. Even more disturbing than the rocket threat, however, is their sophisticated network of tunnels- many of which go right under the border fence and into Israeli towns. Through these tunnels, Hamas could execute mass terror attacks with the potential to kill thousands of men, women and children.
These very real dangers have led to an unprecedented consensus in Israeli society. Opinion polls indicate that nearly 90 percent of Israelis support the current operation in Gaza and almost 70 percent believe that Israel needs to “go all the way” and topple Hamas completely. This is a truly astounding level of agreement for a country whose citizens generally can’t even agree on something as obvious as the statement “the sky is blue”. It has become obvious that the status quo cannot be maintained. The first responsibility of any government is to protect its own citizens, and the time has come for the Netanyahu government to step up to the plate. There can be no more cease fires with Hamas. A cease fire agreement with Hamas would be a crime against the Israeli people and a crime against the entire free world- whether they realize it or not. Now is the moment of truth. Whatever diplomatic consequenses that Israel may face in the short term, the operation must continue or the price will be in blood.