Israel-Hamas War

The Jerusalem Post was filled today with evaluations of the state of the war with Hamas and what we should do.  Not all agreed, but there was a good deal of very good commentary.  My own reflections this week agreed with some of the commentators.  This week I was on a leaders’ retreat in the desert (Sde Boker) and also got the perspective of other leaders.

When Israel went to war after the terrible atrocities, Prime Minister Netanyahu declared that the goal was to end Hamas rule in Gaza and to dismantle the terror organization. Once this became the stated goal and was repeated numerous times (can anyone think it is less than 100 times?) anything less will be seen in the world especially the Arab world as a Hamas victory and will discredit Israel and empower Hamas.  Some years ago, Lee Smith wrote the book The Strong Horse on the mentality of the nations in this part of the world.  They want to bet on the strong horse and a weak-looking nation will not gain their alliance.  The Abraham Accords was a bet on Israel as the strong horse to counter Iran’s power.  New accords probably require Israel to defeat Hamas despite what these nations may publicly say.

However, I believe Israel’s leaders have fallen into a Hamas trap.  One of the world leaders in game theory, a Nobel Prize winner, saw this trap clearly.  By getting Israel to delay the war and focus on the hostages, the nation actually diminishes the chances of getting the hostages out and winning the war.  With the Hamas propaganda machine estimated to reach 100 million, the more time that goes by the more Israel is under international pressure to end the war, which would be a disaster.  Israel’s leaders originally said they had till January to win the war and then they would lose international support.  But here it is April. Wow!  And we are still dithering and talking about a cease-fire with only a third of the hostages released. 

If Bibi had in the beginning said that Israel would punish Hamas badly and then withdraw, he could have declared victory.  But now Israel is in danger of being the weak horse due to the claim.  But Bibi was right in the goals because Israel had to end Hamas rule and the periodic terror in the south from Hamas rockets.  But why did Bibi and his leaders think time was not on their side?  Because the pictures of the destruction and civilian casualties would move the world against Israel since it was Israel’s bombs.  Yes, Hamas is the real culprit and the one responsible for it.  Despite the lying narratives about Israel violating International laws of war, the truth is that Israel does not violate the actual written laws, and although we do not know the civilian casualty numbers (we only have Hamas reports), Israel receives the brunt of the outrage, not Hamas. It is wrong and unjust and as John Spencer, the retired West Point expert on Urban warfare argues, Israel’s program to protect civilians and the proportion for urban war especially with civilian human shields, is very good. 

Donal Trump tells Bibi, to get on with it, finish the job, and end Hamas rule.  That seems like good advice and only such an advance might lead to a pause with hostage release.