Israel should salvage a lost opportunity to disarm Hamas - opinion

Published date01 June 2021
A different policy is needed if a different result is to be expected.

There were positive points in this recent Gaza conflagration. The significance of the Abraham Accords, the most significant stride for Middle East Peace in decades, is now plain to see. No major Arab country was truly critical of Israel's hammering of Hamas. Few shed any tears and many openly or tacitly applauded, as uncensored posts in Arab social media illustrated. The Shi'ites in Iran and the Islamists in Turkey, who long for the lost glory of yore, were the only ones in the region who genuinely denounced Israel. That speaks volumes.

Iran's goal in financing and encouraging Hamas's terrorism is to blow up the Abraham Accords – agreements that established a unified front against Iran's ambitions for regional dominance. In contrast to Iran's ambitions, Israel and the international community had an opportunity to reshuffle the deck in this terror-riddled region.

During the first decade of the 21st century, the IDF confronted a seemingly endless wave of deadly Palestinian suicide bombings and was able to prove that targeted killing, while minimizing unintended civilian deaths, is not only ethical but also effective counterterrorism. By using surgical targeted killings and building a security fence, Israel was able to stop suicide bombings.

A similar policy needs to be adopted against the missile capability of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. All launchers, rocket depots and those who harbor them should know that they will be targeted – during missile attacks, immediately afterwards, or before the next attempt. Zero immunity.

After years of rocket fire and mortar shelling of Israeli civilians, and ill-fated campaigns in Lebanon and Gaza since the summer of 2006, Hamas's working assumption was that political mayhem would cause the Israeli leadership to continue to act with restraint. Israel's restraint policy at its southern border was perceived as an endemic strategy of weakness.

Hamas was wrong.

At the technological and operational level, the Guardian of the Walls operation may turn out to be the most accurate and precise operation in modern military history. According to The Jerusalem Post, The Israel Air Force bombed more than 1,000 Hamas targets in Gaza, many of them inside residential buildings, and a vast system of tunnels – a virtual underground city – that resulted in less than 60 civilian casualties. This figure includes civilians likely killed by Hamas's own rockets, as a...

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