The timing of every military campaign is crucial and contributes primarily in the achievement of its prime goal regardless of its overall nature.The current war that Israel finds itself in against Hamas is one such example of a timely war which could not have come at any better time. However, before we get into the discussion regarding why this war is timely, let us settle two things here; (a) this piece will NOT discuss the legality/morality/conduct of Israel’s action in Gaza, and (b) it will not sympathize with either side.
While many commentators either debate about the legality of this war or the human cost associated with it, very few have actually commented on its perfect timing especially for a country like Israel which risks inviting the wrath of the entire Middle East (if not the world) in strictly military and diplomatic areas as has been the story since its inception. For many countries such as Pakistan, whose war against the Tehreek-e-Taliban in its North Waziristan region would never become an international issue given its geographic/geopolitical location, ergo, politics will always be relegated in favor of core military strategy.
Israel, on the other hand (fortunately or unfortunately), has to think primarily in terms of geopolitical ramifications more than military success in any conflict they get involved in intentionally or unintentionally. Though it is very difficult to understand what the political advisers to Mr.Netanyahu briefed him about the possible geopolitical implications of this war, one thing is for certain, Bibi found them rational enough. This briefing must have been centric on the key regional players that Israel ALWAYS considers before engaging anyone militarily which are namely Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Turkey and Hezbollah.
So why did Israel choose THIS particular instant to launch a military campaign in the Gaza strip? I believe it has got a lot to do with the current state of the surrounding Arab world. For most part, the major power players of the region are either preoccupied with their domestic issues, stretched in other regions of the Middle East militarily or simply consider Israel to be doing them a favor by punishing Hamas.
To begin, Hezbollah which directly confronts Israel militarily is currently stretched in Syria and Iraq, involved in a quagmire of a civil war fighting the likes of FSA and other Anti-Assad forces in the former, while serving as a PMC for the Iraqi government by direct orders from Tehran in the latter. Egypt on the other hand is currently under the control of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi – the Pro-Western “dictator” who came in power after the Muslim Brotherhood (Hamas is a part of MB) candidate was ousted. Therefore, Sisi’s Egypt considers Israel as the only stable ally to rely upon against the forces of Muslim Brotherhood alongside the Petro Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Traditionally, the only sovereign entity that Israel considers as an existential threat has been Iran which itself is currently involved in saving Iraq from the clutches of ISIS while brigades of the Revolutionary guard are currently fighting among the ranks of the Syrian Army against the rebels, due to which,are too exhausted and indeed cautious to instruct Hezbollah to open a second front against Israel from Southern Lebanon lest to leave them exposed in Iraq and Syria for the rebels and ISIS to threaten their interest in their traditional ‘Shia crescent’. Moving westwards from Israel, Turkey though quite vocal about its criticism against Israel, is itself occupied with the fall out of the Syrian crisis while domestic criticism of Mr.Erdogan won’t allow him to implement another kamikaze style Freedom Flotilla plan and risk confrontation with Israel and sour support at home if a military encounter does take place.
It is said that reality is often stranger than fiction and the unexpected and strange alliance of Israel with Saudi Arabia (albeit being strictly limited to their mutual animosity against HAMAS due to its Brotherhood background coupled with Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s mutual interest in alienating Iran). This last strange alliance is perhaps the most encouraging element in this entire equation that prompted Bibi to go ahead with the operation lest this narrow corridor of opportunity fades away.
Keeping in consideration the entire geopolitical equation, if Israel would have been given a chance to choose a time for this operation beforehand, this would have certainly been a good day to wage war.