Hamas’ military wing says it doesn’t know the whereabouts of the IDF soldier who was captured by Hamas during an ambush. According to Hamas, it lost contact with the unit that carried out the ambush. Hamas speculates that the ambushers were all killed by Israeli bombardment and that the IDF soldier, Second-Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, may have been killed along with them.
There’s no reason to believe anything Hamas says. But if Hadar Goldin is still alive and under Hamas’ control, we should be seeing pictures of him soon. Hamas will no doubt use him as a bargaining chip.
Regardless of Goldin’s fate, Israel’s best course of action is to press ahead with the destruction of Hamas’ tunnels, the personal destruction of its leaders and fighters, and the degradation of its rocket launching capability. And, of course, no more “ceasefires” for Hamas to violate.
When Israel has finished destroying the tunnels and degrading the rocket launching capability, it should withdraw. There should be no attempt to reoccupy Gaza. Israel should never have left, but at this point reestablishing authority and policing Gaza would be too difficult and too costly.
If, once Israel withdraws, Hamas ceases its missile attacks on Israel, that will be the “ceasefire” — no piece of paper required. If Hamas persists, Israel should resume bombardment of Gaza.
Israel obviously should continue with its blockade of Gaza and, indeed, should tighten it. Egypt will likely cooperate with Israel in attempting to cut off arms and material to Hamas.
Any outcome in which Hamas ends up with a better deal, in terms of access to outside world, than it had before the war would be a clear and disastrous defeat for Israel. It would mean that Israel’s soldiers died in vain. I find it shocking, but not surprising, that the Obama administration has pushed to impose such a defeat on Israel.
It’s possible that, with Hamas’ tunnels and rockets destroyed and Gaza even more isolated than before, Hamas will be unable to maintain its grip on Gaza. More likely, Hamas will retain that grip.
In that event, Israel will need, somehow, to do a better job of monitoring Hamas’ activity. Apparently, Israel was taken very much by surprise by the extent to which Hamas has tunneled its way towards, and indeed into, Israel.
The above prescription would require Israel to ignore much of what President Obama and Secretary Kerry demand. That’s not a pleasant prospect for Israel.
But the rest of the world manages largely to ignore these two. So can Israel. Fortunately for all of us, the days in power of Obama and Kerry are numbered.