Now the rules of the game are changing

Since the beginning of the war, Hamas has been trying to kidnap a soldier: it is an act with disruptive psychological and military consequences, which in the past has led to a crisis that has ended with the release of thousands of terrorist prisoners in exchange for one person, or even in exchange for a corpse. Now, the kidnapping of 23 year old Hadar Goldin, following a suicide bomber’s action, which also killed two young soldiers, took place half an hour after the ceasefire was declared.

Meanwhile, Hamas also launched missiles at various targets inside Israel. This Hamas operation has changed all the rules of the game. Israel, after pressure from the USA and Egypt, was ready to accept a more significant truce which would have been further elaborated in Cairo between all parties, including Israel and Abu Mazen, during the hours of the temporary truce. All this is now far from reach, outweighed by the facts: there is no more truce in sight.

First of all, as it has done since the kidnapping, the IDF will try above all, with determination, to find the soldier in every home, in every cellar in Rafiah, the area where the kidnapping took place; so the fighting will continue; a momentary occupation of the south of Gaza may also be possible.

Second, the underground hiding places (almost certainly in the basements of hospitals and other humanitarian buildings) will not be as safe as they have been till now for the Hamas leadership, whose decision to continue to attack via missiles and galleries is evident. Third, Israel will appeal to international law, contrary to what it was able to do for Gilad Shalit: if Hamas claims to have a “prisoner of war” the UN assembly, the U.S., Europe must push for the Red Cross to be able to verify his condition, especially if the prisoner is alive.

About the Author
Fiamma Nirenstein is a journalist, author, former Deputy President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, and member of the Italian delegation at the Council of Europe.