Israel's War on 'Terror Infrastructure' Is an Illusion

The bigger political and strategic questions have been pushed aside and replaced by a meticulous count of Iron Dome's successful intercepts.

Along with the Iron Dome missile defense system, the political and military microscope has gone into action. Bigger political questions and the strategic threat - Iran - have been shoved aside. They have been replaced by a meticulous count of Iron Dome's successful intercepts. The pretext for the outbreak of this war has almost been forgotten.

Who remembers the name of that secretary-general of the Popular Resistance Committees who was ostensibly on his way to carry out a terror attack, and was therefore assassinated (and who was replaced by a new secretary-general )? Can someone determine whether the attack has indeed been thwarted as a result of the assassination? Not Defense Minister Ehud Barak. "This round began with the strike on Zuhir al-Qaisi, one of the leaders of the Popular Resistance Committees, who were apparently preparing a major attack, which I cannot say for sure has been thwarted," he said. "Apparently," "cannot say for sure" are expressions based on which hundreds of thousands of citizens have been imprisoned in shelters.

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Not only has the pretext for the war already been forgotten - every day provides the excuse for the following day's attacks - neither side is in a hurry to ask for a cease-fire. After all, the side that asks first is perceived as the loser, and prestige, as we have learned, is an inseparable part of national fortitude. This war did not even have clear goals. Who is against whom? What do they want to achieve through this violent dialogue?

The phrase "destroying the terror infrastructure" very quickly puts in an appearance in the instruction manual for wars against Gaza. It comes right after "Hamas is responsible for events in the Gaza Strip." These slogans have real power. In the past they set off the ambitious ground operations in the Strip, including the masterpiece, Operation Cast Lead, to which the quiet of the past three years is ascribed.

But the expression "terror infrastructure" is starting to become confusing. Hamas' political leader in Damascus, Khaled Meshal, said following the reconciliation agreement with Fatah in February (and even beforehand, in May 2011 ), that Hamas will stick to "nonviolent resistence" as a means to be set free from the occupation. Disengagement from Syria, therefore also from Iran, was seen in Israel as a positive and important development. This week, Meshal visited Saudi Arabia, where he held talks on the possibility of replacing Iranian with Saudi financial support. Hamas' Gaza Strip leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmoud Zahar criticized Meshal so much that the latter announced he would not run for another term of office.

The two Gaza leaders have since been quick to clarify that "there is no dispute within Hamas." But there is dispute within Hamas, and it is important because it shows doubts, the search for a direction, and scrutiny of the cost and effectiveness of the organization's typical activities so far.

These are not the doubts of the Popular Resistance Committees - a weak group that depends partly on family connections and is built on fragments of organizations - which sees Hamas as a rival. Neither are they the doubts of Islamic Jihad, which meanwhile is preserving its relationship with Iran, although it joined the reconciliation agreement with Fatah.

This "terror infrastructure" is not a philharmonic orchestra that plays according to the movements of a single conductor. It is teeming with personal and ideological rivalries that have led Hamas to refrain from joining the shooting festival on Israel. However, it will apparently have to pull the trigger if the cease-fire does not hold, and the battle will rage on.

These rivalries, and all the more so the political and security opportunities they represent - including the opportunity to negotiate with the unified Palestinian Authority that will also represent Gaza - are of no interest to the Israeli government. It prefers to paint the picture of a single, unified enemy and decorate it with the term "infrastructure," and thus to define a worthy goal, which ostensibly can be reached without paying a diplomatic price.

The government is now trying to sell this illusion to the people of Israel, especially the residents of the south, as if it were a lofty goal and worth the cost of sitting in shelters.

But this goal, it must be remembered, was pulled out of the bag only after it became clear that Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistence Committees did not respond as expected and did not make do with a measured and known quantity of rockets. In that case, of course, we have no choice - we have to show them. Because this is not a matter of a terrorist who wanted to bring about an attack that may not have been thwarted. Now - please stand tall - we are fighting infrastructure.