Friday, November 16, 2012

Israel-Hamas conflict continues

The conflict between Israel and Hamas shows no signs of abating. Neither Netanyahu nor Hamas believe that they can back down at this point. As I have written (see posts over past few days), both Israel and Hamas have broader reasons for their actions in this conflict. This overarching dynamic has not weakened, instead it is exacerbated with each new death. However, by effectively injecting themselves into the conflict, the Egyptian Government's actions will lead to two evolutions. First, Israeli-Egyptian relations will further deteriorate (both now and in the medium term): at some point this may lead to a skirmish along the Egyptian/Israeli border. Second, Egypt's engagement gives Hamas a huge, (although I would argue unwarranted) PR boost. Having said this, the Israeli Government will not significantly alter their operational planning because of the presence of Egyptian officials in Gaza. When the Egyptian PM visited Gaza earlier today, Israel implemented a cease fire. However, when Hamas continued to fire rockets during that cease fire, Israel responded with further air strikes. The Israelis will be anxious to send the message that they will not allow Egypt to provide a form of 'human shield' for Hamas. Earlier today a friend who lives in Jerusalem (and who is a top Israel-Palestinian conflict expert) told me that he cannot understand why Hamas is firing on Jerusalem. As he noted, many Palestinians live in that city and the rocket fire risks damaging the Dome of the rock. I think this shows the faux morality of Hamas 'liberation' narrative.

 I believe that this conflict will continue for at least a few more days; Israel's targeting of Hamas PM Haniyeh signals Netanyahu's strategic intent to strike a major blow against the group. But one thing is important. Regardless of individual attitudes surrounding the debate over 'right versus wrong' in this particular operation, it is important that observers do not become pawns for Hamas propaganda. 
           Hamas is not a liberation force struggling valiantly for freedom. They exist on a platform of overt hatred towards Jews, the destruction of Israel and the imposition of an ideological tyranny on the Palestinian people. Think about these truths. For Hamas, a bus is not a method of transport, but instead an opportunity for murder. A nightclub is not a place of celebration, but instead a place to blow up kids. An apartment block is not a place for living, but instead a place for a targeting post. A college is not a place for learning, but instead for a bomb factory. A Palestinian civilian is not a fellow citizen deserving of protection, but instead a human shield.

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