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Why Israel Is Winning This War

Author: Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies
July 15, 2014
Weekly Standard


The reluctance of Hamas's "military wing"—a misnomer for the more extreme elements of its extremist leadership—to accept the cease-fire designed by Egypt is, well, logical. Let's admit it. They do not wish to accept defeat, and the Egyptian terms are a defeat for Hamas.

By attacking Israel, what has Hamas wrought? Considerable damage was done to Gaza by Israeli air power, and Gazans will be picking up the pieces for months if not longer. But Hamas proved unable to kill one single Israeli with its hundreds of rockets, and all its special tricks—tunnels, longer-range rockets, a drone—also failed. Nor could they hit an important Israeli public building, nor do much property damage.

There were a few stated "war aims" for Hamas, and the first was freeing terrorists who were let out of prison in exchange for the kidnapped Gilad Shalit but recently re-arrested by Israel. That's not in the Egyptian proposal. Second, Hamas also called for opening the passages to Gaza, and the Egyptians have promised to do that. But Hamas knows that it is at the tender mercies of Gen. (now President) Sisi and the Egyptian army, which hates them and the entire Muslim Brotherhood. Once the "international community" turns its attention elsewhere, those open passages will get clogged once again.

There is an alternative assessment, and some on the right in Israel are calling the Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire an Israeli defeat and Hamas victory. Two members of Israel's security cabinet voted against accepting the proposed terms. They argue that Hamas sent millions of Israelis cowering in shelters for days, while escaping punishment and reviving Hamas's fortunes.

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