Author’s Note: In the interest of time, I am posting this entry without linked sources. I am currently traveling and do not have time to link them all. I will update this article with linked sources in the coming days. Where sources are to be added, a “***” marking has been provided.
A permanent and long-term ceasefire has been agreed to by all Palestinian factions. And Israel has agreed to it, too.
All around Israel (and probably around the Jewish world), folks are lamenting “Bibi’s capitulation”. “Hamas is declaring victory”, they say. “Israel gave in and agreed to lift the blockade on Gaza”, they say.
The fact is that Hamas has been brought to its knees, but has been allowed to save face via the usual false-bravado bluster that has been typical of every Arab leadership in the Middle-East that has lost a war over the last 100 years. It is a well known fact of recent history that when Arab leaderships lead their people to a victory, they publicly celebrate a victory. And when Arab leaderships lead their people to a stunning defeat, they publicly celebrate a victory. Take a look at the aftermath of the 1948 and 1967 wars…
So let’s not get ourselves all worked up because Hamas is printing silly photoshop posters of Israelis holding white flags and surrendering to Hamas gunfighters, or because Hamas is giving out candies and holding parades in the few cities of Gaza that aren’t laying in utter ruin.
Let’s go back to the beginning:
- Israel dismantled all of Hamas’ military and operational infrastructure in the West Bank in the aftermath of the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli children by Hamas operatives ***.
- It has since been revealed publicly what I argued in this blog several weeks ago ***, that Hamas intended to take over the West Bank just as it had taken over Gaza, and that Israel’s dismantling of Hamas’ infrastructure in the West Bank was an end-game for Hamas’ aspirations of capturing Greater Israel – something they could only do with control of the West Bank (from Gaza they can cause pain, but will never be able to wage a war that can recapture Israel).
- Israel was not looking for a war in Gaza right now. It was content to bank its massive strategic gain of a Hamas-castrated West Bank. Remember: Until Hamas opened up a front in Gaza after Israel took down its West Bank operations, the world was complaining that Israel over-reacted in the West Bank and had made “many unlawful arrests”.
- Hamas, however, could not afford to lose its West Bank enterprise, and knew that the fastest way to free its operatives would be to capture an Israeli soldier. Solution: Open up a front in Gaza and draw Israeli soldiers inside where they can be ambushed and kidnapped. Who cares (according to Hamas thinking) how many innocent Palestinian’s have to die for Hamas to save its jihadist ambitions of capturing Greater Israel…
- So when Hamas opened up a front from Gaza, Israel did not want to send in ground-troops, as Israel knew the stakes.
- Egypt and the Palestinian Authority also understood the stakes very well, too***, and everyone preferred a West-Bank-castrated Hamas.
- This is why Israel, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority (along with the support of Saudia Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Baharain) gave Hamas a Set of Terms (translate: ‘Ultimatum’) in Egypt at the outset of Hamas’ firing of missiles into Israel: “You can go back to the 2012 offer and keep Gaza for now. Period. Your losses in the West Bank will not be restored. And you will gain nothing for yourselves in Gaza.”
- Needless to say, Hamas didn’t like this.
- Hamas continued to attack Israel, and opened up its “secret weapon” on Israel: The Terror Tunnels. These tunnels were being saved up for a super-terror attack on surrounding Israeli farming communities over the Rosh-Hashana holiday ***. But given Hamas’ need to kidnap a soldier, they played the Terror-Tunnel card early.
- Hamas got what it wanted: Israel sent in ground troops, putting soldiers at incredibly high risk of getting kidnapped. Note: I have heard personal eyewitness accounts of soldiers who fought in Gaza, explaining that the ground-warfare they experienced was more difficult than anything ever known before. In the past, they explained, you moved forward, captured and secured an area, and then stood guard over your forward perimeter (since everything behind you was ‘cleared’). Now, due to the Terror Tunnel matrix that also had myriad entrances and exits all over Gaza (from under bushes in fields, to under bathtubs in houses), soldiers had to constantly guard for attack from any and all sides; an attack could come from literally anywhere. It was strategically complex for Israeli soldiers to stay safe, and emotionally exhausting.
- Since the ground-offensive began, Hamas agreed to several cease-fires, and used each one as an opportunity to try to capture Israeli soldiers via a cease-fire-violation-ambush. Each attempt failed, although in one attempt Hamas did gain some Israeli soldier body-parts (yes, we are dealing with that gruesome an enemy).
- All this time, Israel, Egypt, and the PA stuck to their guns: Same Set of Terms.
- Sticking to this Set of Terms was incredibly complex: The United States with its unwanted and highly harmful and naïve interference in Qatar *** had to be put to bed, and this required an incredibly delicate dance that very-much pulled at the seams of Israel’s relationship with the Obama administration ***. And the Qatar leadership’s cynical manipulation of Hamas-head Khaled Mashal for Qatar’s own sought-after gains on the world stage also caused incredible difficulties. ***
Now let’s look where we are at Day 50 and a Long-Term Ceasefire:
- The Hamas Infrastructure of the West Bank is still removed, but now the world no longer cares and is not complaining about it anymore
- Israel has destroyed over 5,000 high-value military targets in Gaza, including hundreds of command-and-control centers, missile-manufacturing factories, drone-manufacturing factories (remember those!), military training facilities, weapons storehouses, and more. ***
- Israel has eliminated 3-4 of the very top military leaders of Hamas ***
- Israel has eliminated many of the top leaders of Islamic Jihad ***
- Israel has destroyed a major arms cache that was waiting for Hamas in the Sudan (this one nearly slid by in the news!) ***
- The head of the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) has been mysteriously killed in Lebanon ***
- Only 10% of Hamas missiles remain. Less then 2% of those can reach beyond the Gaza periphery. *** Defacto, this means Hamas has been disarmed for all intensive purposes. (It is hardly worth sticking to “the demand to disarm Hamas” when Hamas has virtually nothing left to take away from them…)
- All known Terror Tunnels leading into Israel have been destroyed
- Egypt has destroyed (during this same war ***) any known remaining smuggling tunnels into Gaza
- The world has agreed to only fund the rebuilding of Gaza if the funds are managed by the PA and not Hamas *** (i.e. No more dual-use supplies going to make new weapons or Terror Tunnels)
- All border crossings into Gaza will be taken over by the PA (who has fantastic security cooperation with Israel – seriously).
- Hamas has agreed to the same Set of Terms offered to it by Israel, Egypt, and the PA at the outset of this war.
- Israel will expand the fishing zone
- Hamas captured the body-parts of two Israeli soldiers (which sadly, yes, will likely gain the freedom of at least some of those arrested in the West Bank – although not nearly then numbers that Hamas hoped for. And probably ‘deported’ to Gaza or elsewhere…)
So how is it that people are faulting Bibi, Yaalon, Gantz, and Livni, or calling this anything less than a stunning victory?
Oh, right. Because the press is also saying that Abbas (Abu Mazen) will now be demanding a Palestinian state based upon 1967 borders. And that Israel has agreed to ‘lift the siege on Gaza’.
So let’s clarify a few things. All this means is that the Mofaz Plan is going forward. Google it. Read about it. And then read the news again.
Creating an internationally monitored means of rebuilding Gaza, which Israel will also actively participate in, lead by the PA, while simultaneously finally closing a peace-agreement with the PA has been the Israeli long-term plan since the opening of Operation Protective Edge. As documented in my earlier blog-post, there has been a declared diplomatic strategy to this operation all along ***.
Yes, it is true: Israel would love to lift the siege on Gaza under the right conditions. And we are closer to those conditions than ever, thanks to having a now doubly-castrated Hamas (no longer in the West Bank, and having surrendered financial and border control in Gaza [with most of its weapons-of-war gone]). And thanks to a new and powerfully strategic relationship with Egypt ***. And thanks to the alignment of Interests with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Baharain. And thanks to the exposure on the world-stage of Hamas’ main funder, Qatar, as being part of the problem and not part of the solution ***.
And 1967 borders as a basis of discussions?
C’mon everyone. Remember the language of “agreed upon land swaps” that has been part of every peace-proposal since the time of Arafat. Discussions have always been based upon 1967 borders. Always.
So if Israel’s only concession to Abbas at this critical time of moving towards a new opportunity for regional stability is to say out loud what has always been the basis of negotiations, I think it is time for us to swallow that tiny, bitter pill.
The fact is, that HaShem (G-d) has led the Israeli government, our soldiers, and our nation through a minefield of complexity on both the military and diplomatic battlefields over the past 50 days (think “Sefirat HaOmer” or “Matan Torah” or “Yovel”).
And if people cannot see the wonder of the miraculous victory God has given us, and the gift it is to both Israel and the Palestinian people through this new horizon of hope, then it is only because the light of dawn is hurting their eyes and causing them to turn away from the sunrise.