A large majority of Israeli’s citizens and leaders, including some on the left, support “going to the end” in the current war.
There are many reasons for this. The exposure of the tunnel network, which is viewed as a strategic threat, is one; the rocket fire at half the country is another; the current support of the Egyptians and the tacit agreement of most of the world’s nations, and more, are all factors that have given the government a strong tailwind for Operation Protective Edge.
But despite everything, the government in Israel is reluctant, and extensively deliberating, whether to expand the operation and to open new phases that will take IDF soldiers into the depths of the Gaza Strip, and prolong the war by weeks or even months.
If not for yesterday’s difficult occurrences, it is safe to assume that we would be two to three days away from the end of this war. But after yesterday’s attacks and casualties, there is a push to deliver yet another blow. And that will happen in the next day or so: Gazans should expect very intense strikes. But it will be done concurrently with an attempt at the completion of the neutralization of the tunnels, which has become a central goal in this battle. To do this, the army believes that it needs just a few more days, perhaps until Thursday afternoon or evening.
Then, it will look for the “ladder” to climb down from the tree. The Americans, whose attempts at a ceasefire bordered on the bumbling, misreading of the map, and blatant anti-Israel proposals whose intentions were purely to protect the United States, will try to return to the sphere of action. Perhaps they will be aided by Egypt, and they will present a softer ceasefire proposal that will allow Israel to accept it, with some type of diplomatic achievement that can be sold as an impressive gain. The public, which is slowly growing disappointed, and is mourning the fallen, will be receptive to any idea already.
What will we gain? A bit more time until the next round. Nothing more. It will also mean the establishment of committees of inquiry, accusations and counter-accusations, and the huge expenditure of tunnel detection equipment and for continued reinforcement of towns in the line of fire.
Hamas’s activities yesterday prove that they still have the ability to carry out attacks with casualties. On the other hand, a defense official said, Israel has information that Hamas’s senior operatives want a ceasefire, because it feels entirely spent.
The IDF needs to make it clear to the government that an army cannot stay in one place. Either it is forging ahead or it stands in place — which is in essence a retreat. Today, the IDF is doing that — treading water in place.
Hamas is desperate for a ceasefire, but is afraid of a deal that will not provide even one achievement from the whole list of demands it keeps presenting. And in the coming days, the mediators will step in and find the compromise terminology. Hamas will feel that it spilled sufficient Jewish blood, while the Jewish side hardly took out any military-wing Hamas top brass. The fact that the Gazans paid a price already interests them less.
The Israelis are still walking around with the feeling that they dealt a severe blow to Hamas, without understanding that this blow could have happened if they would have just gotten to the Izzadin Al Kassam top terrorists. Instead of killing them, thousands of homes in Gaza were destroyed, which does not give Israel much, if anything. The main thing is to harm those hiding underground, in the military command centers, and that did not happen.
As we said, and will repeat: Israel has a problem and it is not a new one. It knows how to begin wars, but it is unable to bring them to the point of victory. Again, we are heading for a stalemate, which will be an Israeli loss that Hamas will present — justifiably so — as a victory for themselves.