Monday, August 11, 2014

How Hamas Beat Israel in Gaza

By RONEN BERGMAN, NYT, AUG. 10, 2014

Tel Aviv — If body-counts and destroyed weaponry are the main criteria for victory, Israel is the clear winner in the latest confrontation with Hamas. There’s no doubt that Israel could conquer the entire Gaza Strip and completely wipe out Hamas’s military apparatus. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has chosen not to do so and now enjoys his highest approval ratings ever.

But counting bodies is not the most important criterion in deciding who should be declared the victor. Much more important is comparing each side’s goals before the fighting and what they have achieved. Seen in this light, Hamas won.

Hamas started the war because it was in dire straits; its relations with Iran and Egypt were severed. But soon enough Hamas was dictating the duration of the conflict by repeatedly refusing cease-fires. Furthermore, it preserved its capability of firing rockets and missiles at most of Israel’s territory, despite the immense effort the Israeli Air Force invested in knocking out launch sites.

Hamas also waged an urban campaign against Israeli ground forces, inflicting at least five times as many casualties as in the last conflict and successfully used tunnels to penetrate Israeli territory and sow fear and demoralization. It made Israel pay a heavy price and the I.D.F. eventually withdrew its ground troops from Gaza without a cease-fire.

(More here.)

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