1. The leaders of Hamas. They’re winners simply because they’re still alive. After losing so many commanders, just breathing is a victory.
2. Hamas. The group showed it can inflict pain on Israel and its upgraded arsenal (thanks to Iran and other friends) could fire missiles deep into Israel, hitting the outskirts of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. They’re also lucky that one of their missiles didn’t hit a Palestinian village or mosque. It also enjoys greater popularity in the Arab/Muslim world in the wake of the Islamist victories in the Arab uprisings of the past two years.
3. Iron Dome. Israel’s anti-missile system was the big hero, with a very high success rate for stopping Hamas missiles. This guarantees continued and probably increased American financial aid plus the likelihood of foreign customers.
4. Benjamin Netanyahu. He got unequivocally strong backing from start to finish from an American president he tried to undermine, vilify and defeat over the past four years.
5. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She flew in from Cambodia to broker the deal and bolster Egyptian, Israeli and moderate Palestinian leaders.
6. Barack Obama. He stood strong with Israel in a crisis and proved he meant it when he said he had Israel’s back. He personally managed the crisis from the White House and his Asia trip, on the phone continuously with Netanyahu, Morsi and other leaders.
7. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. He gets credit for brokering the deal and positioning himself as the new leader of the Arab world – if he can deliver. He is the guarantor of the deal and that means he is responsible for stopping the smuggling of weapons from Sinai to Gaza. He improved his standing with Washington, which was concerned about a clash between his Islamist roots and his international obligations.
8. Israel-Egypt peace treaty. It was tested under fire and survived.
9. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He’s been called irrelevant but he did tamp down anti-Israel demonstrations on the West Bank, especially if they showed support for his Hamas rivals, and he prevented violent eruptions that could possibly have sparked another Intifada.
1. Hamas. It’s also the big loser. It claims victory because it got Israeli promises to stop targeted assassinations and cross border incursions plus easing the blockade, but those are good only so long as Hamas behaves itself. Hamas is also obligated to keep the other terror organizations in line. It also lost commanders, fighters, infrastructure and much of its missile and rocket arsenal (thought far from enough) in a war it started and which brought it widespread international condemnation. Hamas still not popular with most Gazans who feel it has brought them more pain and suffering.
2. Gaza celebrants. The post-ceasefire demonstrations in the streets of Gaza were less victory celebrations than a show of relief that people could come out of hiding and return to what passes for normal.
3. Russia and Turkey. They came to the defense of Hamas, were rebuffed and looked like apologists for terrorists (something Russia seems to be doing more and more these days).
4. Peace process. Anyone who thinks this will lead to an extended period of relative quiet much less the revival of the peace process is headed for disappointment. Hamas’ goal remains the elimination of the Jewish state, not peaceful coexistence.
5. Optimists. Anyone who thinks Morsi can or will stop the arms smuggling from his territory to Gaza is delusional.
6. Iran. It boasted how it armed Hamas and very likely pressured it to provoke this battle, but it failed to ignite a larger conflict and draw in an Israeli invasion that could have cost the Jewish state the widespread international support it received over the past week.
7. Republican Jewish establishment. They squandered millions of Sheldon Adelson’s money (don’t worry, he can easily afford it) and damaged their already meager credibility by telling American voters that Obama could not be relied on to stand by Israel in a crisis. The proof is in the battle, not the billboards.