It’s quickly becoming clear to any policy analyst with half a brain that Israel’s ‘containment’ strategy of Hamas as the de facto government in the Gaza Strip since 2007 is not working.
Despite the need for repeated military operations against it every few years, Israel could tolerate the continued presence of Hamas in Gaza, or so the thinking went.
After all, the Jihadists’ main weapon appeared to be rockets, and Israel possessed a potent countermeasure – the Iron Dome.
Furthermore, leaving a Palestinian terrorist group in control of Gaza provided an opportune counterbalance to the western-backed Palestinian Authority. If the West Bank and Gaza were ruled by different entities, there could be no ‘peace partner’ for negotiations and Israel wouldn’t be required to make hard decisions and/or territorial concessions. What would it matter? The Palestinians always rejected Israeli peace entreaties anyway.
Even after 2014’s operation protective edge introduced Israelis and the world to the ‘terror tunnels’ and Hamas’ subterranean infiltratation capabilities, the thinking persevered. The terror group was too small and too incompetent to inflict any ‘real’ damage on fortress Israel.
But like Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas was biding its time, stockpiling weapons, and carefully planning its next brutal atrocity. The creation of a Palestinian State has never been its goal; governing Gaza a necessary inconvenience. Killing Israelis and Jews are its raison–d’être, with martyrdom and promises of virgins in paradise the ultimate aim.
The extremist Islamist terror group resoundingly demonstrated its prowess to catastrophic effect on the morning of October 7th, cowardly butchering women and children in their homes, shooting partygoers from behind as they ran for cover. Tires were burned to flush civilians out of bomb shelters; rapes and beheadings documented; mass kidnappings. When the dust had settled and the damage done – 1,400 killed, 250 hostages taken. This happened in just one day.
Meanwhile in Israel, a weak, tired, old Prime Minister thinks only of his enduring legacy. Criminally charged with counts of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. Evidently guilty of putting his own interests ahead of his country’s. Desperately trying to curb judicial checks on his power. Empowering all of the abysmal elements in Israeli society. He drags the country from election to election. Everyone is his enemy. He has no friends, only lackeys. He doesn’t give interviews. He doesn’t take responsibility. He doesn’t do the honorable thing and resign.
But as in February-March of 1996 when three Hamas suicide bombings helped propel a young charismatic politican to the Israeli premiership, Hamas has a history of throwing Benjamin Netanyahu a lifeline.
October 7th has provided him with his last chance. If he can’t remove Hamas from power, the next Israeli Prime Minister will have to.