Hamas Controls the Game
By Jean-Marcel Bouguereau
Israel is once again confronted with the choice between two bad solutions. Since Hamas - which has continuously bombarded the little town of Sderot - has extended its targets to Ashkelon, a coastal city of 110,000 inhabitants 65 kilometers from Tel Aviv, the Israelis may not sit idly by. But at what a price: Saturday alone, Israeli reprisals killed 63 people in Gaza, the organizers of that rocket fire, but also numerous civilians, including women and children, inciting the world's general indignation. Now everything indicates that this deadly operation could be the first of a series that could end up with the invasion of the Gaza Strip, the closing and control of the wall between Gaza and Egypt through which pass the rockets Iran furnishes Hamas and, undoubtedly, an out-and-out "cleansing" of this narrow band of territory. This recalls the slogan once invented by Yitzhak Rabin - Israel will fight terror as though there were no peace process and pursue the peace process as though there were no terror. That strategy is now less appropriate than ever.
"Israel behaves like a blind Goliath that strikes hard, with no political objective. (É) It's a mistaken concept, denuded of any strategic reflection, that leads nowhere," deems Professor Menachem Klein of Bar Ilan University. This specialist considers that "this whole operation has been counterproductive. It has not stopped the rocket fire; it has considerably weakened Mahmoud Abbas" who could not under any circumstances continue the peace negotiations. Nonetheless, having learned some lessons from the fiasco in southern Lebanon, people worry: what would the goals of such an operation be? According to good sources, people are talking about bombing - not targeted, but "indiscriminate" - around a two kilometer area from the point of rocket launches, or - another option - having the Army penetrate Gaza for a "two- to three-month" long operation to dismantle Hamas's military networks. With the IDF bogged down in a new quagmire and a peace process already in serious trouble. And with the possibility that Israel be caught between two fronts, should Iran activate Hezbollah in the North. Even as one IAEA official has just presented extremely alarming data with respect to Iran, most notably about the manufacture of a nuclear warhead.