There will be times in future when Cairo will give Hamas full backing but this wasn’t one of them. Moreover, it seems that the Egyptian government has committed itself to crack down more on arms’ imports across the Egypt-Gaza border. Of course, that promise might well not be kept—if only for the bribes paid to Egyptian military officers by smugglers—but retaining the status quo is hardly a victory for Hamas.
The supposed greatest military achievement of Hamas was sending missiles in the direction of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Yet this was accomplished by taking out most or all of the explosives in order to extend the range. The Iron Dome system shot down most of these and little damage was done.
By the end of the war, Hamas was apparently out of missiles (though not shorter-range rockets). It had lost a lot of cadre and needs to rebuild part of its infrastructure and most of its arsenal. Israel faces no such problems. In addition, Israel continues to prosper and advance while the Gaza Strip, in part thanks to Hamas’s own strategy, continues to stagnate.
Of course, Hamas did manage to terrorize a million Israelis in the south and close down normal life there. This is an accomplishment but something Hamas also did in 2008-2009 with more effectiveness since there was no real anti-missile defense. Everyone knows that Hamas can do this.
Israel’s goal, then, is also to deter even the most hostile, hate-filled Egyptian Islamist regime from going too far in trying to implement the Muslim Brotherhood’s genocide program. Its cheering Hamas is not the problem. The issue is how much it will help Hamas and, even more important, whether it will some day fight alongside it. Has this deterrence been increased by the recent war?
Apparently, yes, and that is a very important outcome. Israel has reminded Egypt of its own power; Hamas has showed its Egyptian sponsor that it was not a good team player.
Perhaps the better way to put it is that Israel won the battle but the war goes on, as indeed it has for our entire lifetimes.
About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.
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