Can Israel deny Hamas the “victory” Hezbollah obtained?

Noah Pollak looks at Israel’s counter-attack on Hamas in Gaza through the lens of its 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon. That war was widely perceived as a failure for Israel because of Hezbollah’s success in thwarting Israel from accomplishing the objectives the government announced at the beginning of the war, and its ability to maintain a consistent level of rocket fire throughout the war.

Pollak argues that Hamas will seek a similar “triumph” by attempting to sustain its attacks on Israel despite the Israeli campaign to stop them. Like Hezbollah, “Hamas will seek a cessation of hostilities that will be called victory so long as the cessation is accomplished in the context of Israel’s inability to stop Hamas’ rockets.” Hamas believes such a cease-fire is possible, says Pollak, because it sees Israel as “a superpower with feet of clay, technologically powerful but spiritually weak and quickly cowed by international condemnation.”

Pollak doesn’t say so, but Hamas may also believe that the U.S., more of a nag than an ally to Israel lately, will pressure Israel to accept a cease-fire before it has met its limited objective of stopping Hamas’ rockets. Such a belief would be rational and quite possibly correct.

Pollak concludes:

Israel’s job is not necessarily to topple Hamas rule — that would be a tall order, being that there is no competent Fatah force to replace Hamas in Gaza — but to humiliate the swaggering resistance, to kill as many of its leaders and militants as possible, and to demonstrate to Hamas’ allies that the IDF and Israeli government learned the right lessons from the 2006 war. This will require more strikes like those of this morning, and it will require the IDF to stop Hamas’ rocket fire — either through military dominance, or by forcing Hamas to conclude that it must cease its attacks lest its rule be terminated. The former is much more likely than the latter.

JOHN adds: It’s always hard to tell from news accounts, but it seems to me that Israel’s attack has been effective. Hamas is squealing, which can only be a good sign, and it sounds as though the Israelis have killed a lot of Hamas terrorists. So far, the attack seems to have been well-planned and well-executed. Let’s hope the Israelis keep it up and inflict a lot more damage.

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