Destroy Hamas, Weaken Khiz’b-Allah
Today, former head of Mossad, Efraim Halevy, called on Israel to destroy Hamas — at the cost of “a heavy, bloody price from Israel – in losses and injuries… a terrible price” (ynet op-ed). That would be a profoundly unwise, and certainly disastrous, path.
Weakening Khiz’b-Allah Would Empower al-Qaida & Muslim Brotherhood
Mr. Halevy would inadvertently provide the [Sunni] Muslim Brotherhood and [Sunni] al-Qaida an enormous advantage. “In a wide ranging audio interview [published by Reuters in Dubai last Shabbat, 04.26], the al Qaeda leader [Ai•manꞋ al-Za•waꞋhᵊri] expressed solidarity with the Muslim Brotherhood… and urged unity among rebels in their fight against [Shiite] Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.” (Huffingtonpost.com).
Destroying [Shiite-allied] Sunni Hamas, as Mr. Halevy has proposed, would create a vacuum in Gaza that [Sunni] al-Qaida in Syria and the [Sunni] Muslim Brotherhood would cooperate to seize – taking over Gaza and inserting themselves, via the unity agreement, with the [Sunni] Fatah in the Shomron; assuming effective unified control over both Areas A-B and Gaza. Such a terror threat would be far worse than today’s feud and daily trade in strikes with a weak [Shiite-allied] Sunni Hamas.
Hamas and Khiz’b-Allah
The working Shiite triad of Iran, Iran’s [Shiite-allied] proxy in Gaza, Sunni Hamas, and Iran’s Shiite proxy in Lebanon, Khiz’b-Allah (“Party of Allah”), is primarily weakened by imported Sunni rebels in Syria (Sunni al-Qaida and the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood). Hamas’ weakness vis-à-vis Israel has negligible effect on the strength or influence of Khiz’b-Allah.
A take-over of such a vacuum in Gaza by an alliance of Sunni al-Qaida and the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood would, in fact, empower Sunni Hamas, which, although currently allied with Shiite Iran to further its belligerent insistence on eradicating Israel, is composed of Sunni Muslims who would greatly prefer to ally with a strong Sunni faction characterized by belligerent insistence on eradicating Israel.
To date, however, excepting al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood, Sunni powers are satisfied trying to eradicate Israel sometimes with violence and terror but short of war. Hamas has been able to find a warlike ally in Shiite Khiz’b-Allah and backing from Shiite Iran. An alliance of Sunni al-Qaida and the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, on the other hand, would fill that bill perfectly – and Sunni al-Qaida and the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood could paint themselves as “saving” the “indigenous” Hamas from extinction at the hands of Israel. Should we invite them by launching a war on Gaza? Might that be the one factor that could cause Shiites and Sunnis to temporarily suspend their differences and unite in fighting Israel?
Whatever the outcome, we would subsequently be confronted by a far more ferocious Hamas, backed by on-site Sunni fighters, blooded fighters of the Syria conflict, of al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood imported from all over the Middle East to their new center of Sunni jihadists’ power: Gaza.
A strong Sunni jihadists’ center in Gaza would also be a particular threat to Sunni Egypt, struggling to be moderate and preserve American economic aid; and beyond that, Sunni Jordan. Israel could find ourselves locked in the grip of a pincer between a Shiite crescent sword on our north and a Sunni crescent sword on our south.
Affect on Gaza of Syrian Conflict
The outcome of the Syrian conflict, regardless of which side wins, poses an increase in threat to Israel. Aside from other factors, the effect on Gaza is the focus of this article. If the Shiites win, that strengthens Shiite Iran, Shiite Khiz’b-Allah and their proxy in Gaza, Hamas. It also creates a situation in which thousands of blooded Sunni fighters, al-Qaida and Muslim Brotherhood, will have to look for a new stronghold in the Levant and a new place to fight: Gaza.
Affect on Gaza of Sunni Victory in Syria
If the Sunnis win, that strengthens al-Qaida, the Muslim Brotherhood and sets up an opportunity for the Sunni-Muslims of Hamas in Gaza to reconnect with their Sunni brothers who will share their bloodthirst to eradicate Israel.
Affect on Gaza of Shiite (Assad) Victory in Syria
Unless America and Europe change their collective minds, Shiite Assad, in cooperation with Shiite Khiz’b-Allah and Shiite Iranian backing, will win the Syrian conflict against Sunni al-Qaida and the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood. (The misfortunate original Syrian rebels, now enemies of external forces on both sides and abandoned by America and Europe, are being ground to hamburger in the middle.) This will reestablish, and reinvigorate, the crescent Shiite sword (Lebanon, Syria and Iran) poised over Israel, strengthening Shiite-ally Hamas in Gaza.
I would not be surprised if, behind closed doors, Hamas has determined that, one way or another, al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood are either coming to Gaza, or have already begun to filter into Gaza via the Sinai, and are setting the stage accordingly. Hence, the reunification with Sunni Fatah in the Shomron.
A Shiite-ally / Sunni Hamas would also be in a position in Gaza, being an ally of the Shiite crescent sword (Khiz’b-Allah and Shiite Iran) poised above us, to function as a fulcrum of the pincer in the one thing Shiites and Sunnis agree on: eradicating Israel.
Hence, the increasing activity in the Sinai will make Egypt even more of a flash-point and Hamas-Fatah will be increasing their determination to break the naval blockade.
Weak Hamas is lesser of evils
Mr. Halevy assumes that, if Israel doesn’t launch a war against Hamas, that Hamas will “gain renewed strength.” This is a risk, not a given. Further, even if Hamas does “gain renewed strength,” that isn’t necessarily the worst risk or scenario.
Mr. Halevy’s Option: Concessions
He says “negotiations”, but Israelis know the jargon by now. Negotiations have cost, and weakened, only Israel over the past decades. Given the outlook, I don’t see Hamas viewing negotiations as a positive thing for them. They are more likely to dig in their heels, expecting to receive more “good will” concessions from Israel as they always do. I expect they would get more concessions from Israel too. Why would Hamas not have that confidence after their experiences of years of “good will” concessions from Israel in every negotiation? Relative to “talks” between Israel and our enemies, faith in negotiations is a swamp-gas mirage, with no shortage of swamp gas.
Logic: False Dilemma
Mr. Halevy represented that rejection of the negotiation option with Hamas leaves a dilemma: launch war on Gaza or continue a “no policy.”
Dilemmas are almost always a deception that ignores other alternatives; and always belie a failure to think outside of the box. Preferring a weak Hamas not only is a valid policy, it’s infinitely preferable to launching an ill-considered war that is likely to make our situation worse – and conceded to extract “a heavy, bloody price from Israel – in losses and injuries… a terrible price”.
I often pine over the loss of the preemptive initiative of Israel’s leaders of yesteryear. I greatly value taking the initiative. But initiative isn’t equivalent to impulsiveness, much less tunnel-vision or false dilemmas.