Israel must not stop until Hamas is much more damaged – opinion
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Israel must not stop until Hamas is much more damaged – opinion

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Nine days into operation “Guardian of the Walls” (“the Sword of Jerusalem in Gaza”), the Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist organizations have been significantly damaged by the IDF. The intensity of the Israeli response and the depth of the military intelligence’s penetration into the organization’s lines have surprised them. Hamas has been begging to end the military confrontation for days. As far as Hamas is concerned, it would have preferred to end the confrontation within 24-48 hours. Israel refused

The terrorist organizations in Gaza have already launched more than 3,000 rockets at the civilian population in Israel. They tried to carry out dozens of anti-tank missile attacks on civilian and military targets in Israel near Gaza. In addition, the IDF successfully intercepted dozens of explosive device-carrying UAVs launched against its nearby towns and villages.

Although six Israeli civilians (by rockets) and one soldier were killed (by an anti-tank missile), it is clear that Hamas is experiencing a huge operational failure in the current military confrontation. It thought it would surprise Israel from the air, land, underground and the sea, and deter Israel from acting against it. Israel has thwarted most of Hamas’s attempts to achieve operational-strategic success.

Yet, during the current military conflict, Hamas achieved a series of achievements in which it can flaunt against its operators and the Gaza population. Among the rocket fire at the Jerusalem area, hundreds of rocket launched toward the center region only – including Tel-Aviv – in a short period of time, the temporary closure of Ben-Gurion Airport followed.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of Hamas in this military round, at least so far, is the “recruitment” of Arab-Israeli citizens in Arab cities and “involvement” cities.

Through antisemitic incitement and anti-Israeli propaganda, Hamas managed to cause masses of Israeli Arabs to carry out riots and pogroms against Jews, destruction of private and public property, transportation and public buildings, burning synagogues, stone throwing, roadblocks and looting. In terms of Hamas, this is another war zone.

Even this is not an operational achievement in the military confrontation itself. The fact that Israel is busy in dealing with another arena, mainly internal, is for Hamas an operational advantage. For Hamas, this is a first-rate strategic achievement. It received what it wanted: to be perceive as the Muslim protector and the saver of Jerusalem in the eyes of the Arabs of Judea and Samaria, east Jerusalem and even Israeli Arabs.

This in contrast to the Palestinian Authority and the Fatah movement, perceived as collaborating with Israel. By this, Hamas strengthens its image in Judea and Samaria and east Jerusalem areas at the expense of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Although Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been significantly harmed, it is still not enough for Israel to achieve its goal in the military operation: the creation of long-term deterrence. Therefore, Israel has not yet completed the mission. Not only must Israel continue the fighting, it must also increase the intensity of its attacks and focus on targets that are more significant.

Israel should eliminate high officials from the military and “political” arms of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, destroying many more residential towers and governmental infrastructure (that constitute a symbol of Hamas and operational structures), continue the destruction of the “underground city” of Hamas (underground tunnels used by Hamas for command and control, storage of weapons and hiding terrorists), and demolish neighborhoods from which Hamas and the terrorist organizations operate.

The writer is a researcher at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security. 

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