January 18, 2009

REMEMBER HOW THE WAR WAS GOING TO REMOVE THE ROCKET THREAT?:

Hamas announces ceasefire and gives Israel one week to leave Gaza (Martin Fletcher in Jerusalem, and David Byers, 1/18/09, Times of London)

In a decision designed to throw the international focus back on Israel, the Islamists said that they would halt all rocket attacks on the country for a week, but that the attacks would resume if Israel failed to pull its troops out of the territory during that time. [...]

Israel announced its own unilateral ceasefire in the early hours of this morning, in a move designed to show the international community the problems it faced if — as Israeli officials expected — Hamas kept firing rocketsat the towns of Sderot and Ashkelon in southern Israel.

The strategy appeared to be working when Hamas sent at least five rockets towards Sderot and said thatit would not stop fighting until all Israeli troops had left Gaza. Israeli aircraft swiftly destroyed the rocket-launching site.

By making its announcement this afternoon, Hamas expects to place international pressure back on Israel's shoulders.

After his forces' humiliating failure to defeat Hezbollah guerrilas in southern Lebanon in 2006, Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, would want to avoid at all costs bowing to a Hamas ultimatum without being sure of first wrecking the group's rocket-firing capabilities.


Let us, for the moment, accept two arguments that are made in regard to Hamas: first, that it poses a serious threat to Israel; second, that it faced an existential threat itself during the current war. Given these "facts," it is self-evident that the dying beast would have struck back at Israel with all the power at its disposal. That we have seen that this military capacity consists of nothing but desultory rocket shots puts paid to the first argument. That it feels free to continue them after Israel's retreat puts paid to the second.

The facts of the matter are that Hamas is insignificant as a military entity but ineradicable as a political one.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at January 18, 2009 9:30 AM
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