There is a cease fire in Gaza today. There is hope that it will be extended and hostilities will finally end.
Let both Israel and Hamas claim victory.For both of them have won. And the people of Gaza have lost.
The ‘Iron Dome’ missile defense system has worked spectacularly well. Hamas has fired more than two thousand rockets at Israel, almost all to no avail! The only meaningful impact those rockets have had is the suspension of flights to Tel Aviv airport for two days. An embarresment, but not much more.
The ground invasion of Gaza appears to be meeting its objective as well. The Hamas built ‘terror tunnels’ are being sealed one by one, crippling Hamas’s ability to conduct covert raids for some time to come.
Mr Netanyahu appears to have made the calculation that every Israeli life is worth a thousand Palestinian lives. He appears hell bent on crippling Hamas. But trying to cripple Hamas is messy business, for Hamas lives among the people of Gaza.
Israel’s military victory comes with a truly astounding number of civilian casualties. More than a thousand people have died in Gaza. The deaths of children, reported by citizens and journalists, and amplified massively by social media, have put a human face on this human tragedy.
For decades Israel has presented itself as a nation under siege. A nation whose neighbors want to destroy it. A nation dealing with a senseless violent uprising. This latest episode has changed all that. The tide of world opinion is changing ever so slightly.
Israel may have been the victim once, but that is certainly not the case now. This change in world opinion is what Hamas will claim as a moral victory. By luring Israel into the fight, and by not being annihilated within six days, Hamas will claim that it is the only Palestinian organization with the will and ability to engage Israel militarily. Considering an audience of millions of Palestinians starved for leadership, that is a powerful message. Of course, this moral victory is hollow at best, for it comes at the cost of a thousand Palestinian lives.
While Israel and Hamas may have their claims to victory, it is the people of Gaza who are paying the ultimate price. Trapped on all sides, they can’t run and they can’t hide. There is no escaping this madness. The people of Gaza are the board on which this deadly game of chess is being played. Every time Hamas fires rockets at Israel, rockets come raining down on Gaza. Hamas claims victory. Israel claims victory. And another child dies in Gaza.