Daily Alert

04 January 2009

What Should Be Israel's Goal in Gaza?

The best evidence that a very quick final status treaty may well follow an Israeli victory over Hamas is the attempt by Hamas to move against the internal opposition. Fatah, which ironically can condemn the attack (a false show of solidarity) on one hand and be a significant beneficiary on the other will be enhanced both politically and strategically in Gaza even if Hamas is not destroyed. From a pure tactical perspective, destroying Hamas is not in Israel's interest. Balancing out the facts on the ground between Hamas and Fatah is. Hamas's does not count in its goals a political victory against Israel, only one soaked in Jewish blood chas v'shalom.

Fatah's support amongst Gazan arabians will increase as Hamas will be seen as bringing the wrath of the IDF upon Gaza. In the end, a scenario where Fatah and Hamas are engaged in an internal conflict benefits Israel provided that the unspoken goal of population reduction through masses of arabians fleeing Gaza (presumably into Egypt) due to the violence and human rights abuses by Hamas (which will try to force the civilian population to stay in place) does not occur.

What Israel has to do is destroy the ability of Hamas to produce or procure long range rockets and prevent additional terror rocket attacks at shorter range while all the while damaging Hamas's legitimacy. Not doing so will be seen as a dramatic failure to meet the stated objectives of the conflict. The goal of destroying Hamas is misinformation by Israel. I just do not see the current government believing this is possible even though by doing so, the left's goal of a final settlement would be possible.

Going public with this understanding would damage the credibility of the war effort in the eye's of the few friends Israel has. One justification from the ruling Israeli government for building up Fatah and damaging Hamas (since the government of Israel lacks the will to destroy Hamas) will be that only Fatah {in their mind} can prevent rocket fire on Israel originating from Gaza. This is of course, the same failed logic of Oslo.

The only way to successfully meet the war objectives is to capture and hold territory in Gaza where immediate response to rocket launches can be dealt out. This is a daunting task given the current rocket ranges and past Lebanon experience.

Therefore, in theory rolling back the rocket ranges to June 2008 should be a primary goal of the conflict and holding a zone of territory in Gaza which would make launching rockets into Israel not very easy and thereby not feasible. Longer range rocket launches will have to be dealt with severely.

In truth, there is fundamentally no difference between Hamas and Fatah in their goals of eventual victory over Israel, only style. Having said that, there should be no change in the nationalist goal of eventual Jewish control over all territory held at this time by arabians which is within the borders of Israel. The above outcome is a considerably better one than a rushed treaty with Fatah for a split Gaza-Yosh state, two state disaster legitimizing a pali state for the time being, until Fatah loses control to Hamas's successor.

Hamas moves on Fatah 'collaborators'

Is the real target Hamas rule?

Shin Bet Says Hamas Feeling the Pain, Looking for Way Out

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