The punchline to the old joke about how you can tell when a politician is lying is when his mouth is moving is just as apt for Palestinian Arab leaders whenever they talk about a true victory.
But maybe lying is the wrong word. Maybe Ismael Haniyeh, the Hamas leader who just claimed victory, was watching a different channel, one on which Israel barely played a minor role.
After one month of war against Israel in which Hamas greatly depleted its weapons arsenal, with very little militarily to show despite having launched thousands of rockets, and with schools, hospitals, a university and entire neighborhoods obliterated because Hamas embedded their fighters amongst civilians, Ismael Haniyeh is claiming victory in the Summer 2014 War.
How is that possible?
Because the achievement of strategic objectives through military means is not what Hamas was after.
The Hamas leadership knows that if enough of their people are killed, and enough of their neighborhoods are destroyed, the entire world will sit on Israel’s hands and force it to do several things: one, withdraw from Gaza; two, make concessions it would not have agreed to before it was forced into beating Hamas; and three, watch as even more huge boatloads of foreign aid is poured into the Gaza strip to “rebuild Gaza’s infrastructure,” which really means replenish its arsenal.
From that perspective, Haniyeh is not wrong to take a victory lap.
What were the true objectives of Hamas? One of those was certainly the lifting, or at least the relaxing, of the blockade of Gaza.
Haniyeh addressed that issue in his victory statement issued on Tuesday, August 4:
“The military victory by the resistance, and the legendary strength of our people will lead us to a lifting of the blockage on the Gaza Strip,” said the former prime minister of Hamas, through an official statement released through Hamas media.
Of course, that success is yet to be revealed. Will there be a reduction in restrictions? Perhaps Egypt will gin up some way of making it look as though that happened. The reality, of course, is something else, as Egypt is less reluctant to be brutal to Gazans than is the IDF.
Haniyeh also said that Palestinian unity helped reach the agreement in Egypt. “A unified people stood behind our delegation in Cairo. We complied with all the diplomatic procedures and contacted our brothers in Qatar and Turkey and, now, in Egypt in order to end the aggression.” They contacted Egypt? Really? In a word, no.
The Gaza political leader stated that “what the enemy could not achieve on the physical battlefield it will not achieve in the diplomatic battlefield.” In the language of everyday people, that translates to “what Hamas could not achieve on the physical battlefield we can achieve on the diplomatic battlefield.” Because the party perceived as the underdog – the genocidal terrorists with a bloodthirsty governing document and the Ayatollah Khameini as its grand patron – is always coddled by the gullible West.
The leader of Hamas’ political bureau said: “I am confident that our Egyptian and Arab brothers all want to help lift the blockage permanently. We support the unified Palestinian delegation in order to produce the most appropriate diplomatic solution and to bring about a resolution that would reflect both the immeasurable sacrifices of our people and the work of the resistance. The delegation stuck to our demands.”
What he did not mention was that by not raising them, even Haniyeh has dropped the other unsupportable preconditions Hamas demanded for prior ceasefires.
Those other “preconditions” included the release of the rearrested Shalit exchange prisoners who were scooped up during the search for the three kidnapped teenagers in June and July; the release of the fourth wave of prisoners which had been part of the peace process aborted during the spring; the extension of maritime rights for “fishing” off of Gaza; and the building of an airport for the Gaza Strip. No mention of any of those by Haniyah on Tuesday.