I recently wrote that Israel was determined to eliminate Hamas once and for all and would not stop until that goal was realized. Then, out of nowhere, the Israeli’s agreed to an Egyptian brokered cease-fire. Obviously I was wrong. This was brilliantly played by the Israeli’s and Egyptians. It was a chance for the new Egyptian government to demonstrate what it can achieve and to build legitimacy in the world of public opinion. It was also an important opportunity for Israel to win some points with her neighbor to the south, by propping her up. Egypt and Israel have shared a warm friendship despite periods of conflict in the region, ever since the two countries signed a peace agreement four decades ago. They understand each other and are aware that neither poses a threat to the other. On the contrary, many Israeli’s vacation on the beaches of Egypt and bring with them many shekels.
Hamas on the other hand has no love or trust for the Egyptian government that through the Muslim Brotherhood out of power. The Muslim Brotherhood was far more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Therefore, Hamas was not going to allow it to win points in the eyes of the world. So instead of adhering to a cease-fire, it continued to fire rockets into Israel even as Israel showed great restraint, halting the bombings for almost 6 hours. At that point, Israel had no choice but to continue her campaign.
The result; Hamas will continue to suffer casualties and a depletion of its arms. In addition, the world that sees with open eyes, will recognize that Israel was willing to end the aggression while Hamas wasn’t. Israel won the battle of world opinion. Since the U.S. considers Hamas a terrorist organization, this unwillingness to halt the aggression only helps solidify the view that Hamas can not be dealt with diplomatically. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was very blunt when he said, “I cannot condemn strongly enough the actions of Hamas.” That is an unusually strong statement coming from this administration.
Netanyahu and the Israeli government engaged in a well-played chess match. There will undoubtedly be further casualties on both sides but at least Israel attempted to end this latest conflict. And it will eventually end but no matter what happens from here forward, Israel has already won.