Israel Won the Gaza War in a Big Way

After wreaking destruction on the population of Gaza and losing its only strategic card, Hamas is agreeing to what it rejected three weeks ago. Could there be any greater and more obvious defeat?

Yehuda Ben Meir
Yehuda Ben-Meir
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Israeli soldiers ride a tank after returning to Israel from Gaza August 3, 2014.
Israeli soldiers ride a tank after returning to Israel from Gaza August 3, 2014.Credit: Reuters
Yehuda Ben Meir
Yehuda Ben-Meir

After a month of fighting, Hamas agreed to a 72-hour cease-fire without preconditions; that is, it accepted the original Egyptian diktat – first a cease-fire and only then a discussion on the sides’ demands.

It’s hard to know whether the cease-fire will hold, but the very fact Hamas has agreed to one without getting anything in advance – completely contradicting its stance for about three weeks – is tantamount to a harsh defeat. This isn’t the running of a white flag up a pole, but it’s definitely the raising of one, at least to half-mast.

It’s important to remember that on Tuesday, July 15, even before the ground operation, Egypt proposed a cease-fire at 9 A.M., with the same conditions as the current one. Israel, under the intelligent and courageous leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, agreed immediately, but Hamas scornfully rejected the proposal. It calls it an Egyptian diktat whose acceptance would be tantamount to surrender.

Hamas declared that it would not agree to a cease-fire before receiving international guarantees for an end to the blockade and a complete opening of the border crossings, not to mention its demands for a seaport, an airport, the release of rearrested prisoners who had been freed in the Shalit deal, and much more. And what has happened to all these conditions?

Now, after wreaking terrible destruction on the population of the Gaza Strip, causing more than 1,700 deaths including hundreds of its own people, bringing about the demolition of entire neighborhoods and losing its only strategic card — its tunnels — Hamas is agreeing to what it rejected three weeks ago. Could there be any greater and more obvious defeat?

Hamas will have to explain this to the Gazans. True, as always, it will claim that it won a huge victory, but you can’t fool all the people all the time. The Gazans know the truth very well on their own flesh.

There is no basis to the theory that Hamas isn’t influenced by public opinion in Gaza. Hamas is not Al-Qaida. It’s a murderous terror organization but has pretensions of representing the Palestinian people, whom it wants to rule.

No organization like that can ignore the sentiments of the people over time. Hamas’ consent to the cease-fire, even if it doesn’t observe it, stems mainly from the fact that it can’t ignore the outcry coming from every home in Gaza.

The cease-fire might very well not hold up and the fighting will continue, with the terrible price that entails. But what happened on Tuesday proves that the prime minister is right – Hamas has suffered a huge blow.

All kinds of analysts are talking about a feeling of a missed opportunity and a strategic tie. Some may even go so far as to say Hamas has won. This is arrant nonsense and sour grapes. Hamas doesn’t have any real achievements to its name, it has unprecedented losses. It’s returning home empty-handed.

For Israel, even if there were regrettable hitches, it has chalked up tremendous defensive achievements and very good offensive achievements. It has also proved that it is not deterred from carrying out a ground war. And then it wins. It’s fitting that Israelis are taking pride in these achievements.

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