Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Israel's Press Declares Victory For Hamas

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman On Gaza: "We Did The Best We Could In Gaza"
“Everyone in the state of Israel, every mother and father, should be aware that a [ground operation in Gaza] is a last resort for when there is no other option … let everyone imagine our soldiers entering all the alleyways of the refugee camps, all the streets of Gaza, Rafah – it’s not going to be easy.” 
“It’s clear to me that in the circumstances we were in, we made the best possible decision... we created a new reality: we defined the objectives of the operation in a precise and measured way. It wasn’t a strategic operation.” 
He stressed that Operation Pillar of Defense had three main objectives, all of which were fulfilled, he said –
“ending the rocket fire against Israeli civilians, rehabilitating our power of deterrence and destroying [Hamas's] Fajr 5 stockpiles.”
Israel could not have sent combat forces into Gaza:
“It’s not a two-day operation … I think it’s clear that conquering Gaza, subduing Hamas, that won’t take two months, not three months and not even four months. I don’t think it would have been right to make such a decision now, at this time,” he said. “I think we did the best we could.”
Via: "The Times Of Israel"

Kaveh L. Afrasiabi writes that "Israel's Strategy Backfires"

Netanyahu and his team simply did not anticipate Hamas's newly-acquired long-range rocket capability threatening deep inside Israel. Put simply, Hamas's possession of Fajr-5 rockets represent a long-term game-changer that chip away at Israel's traditional sense of total military dominance and, as a result, Hamas should be taken more seriously as a powerful foe than ever in the past.
Of course, this is not the first time that the simple introduction of a new weapon shifts the balance of forces. We saw that with the US stinger missiles to the Afghan mujahedin during the 1980s -- that proved a decisive factor in the eventual withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan following their conclusion that the human and physical toll of their invasion had become too costly. Perhaps the Israelis will soon come to the same conclusion with respect to their undeclared war on Gaza.
With its disciplined force of some 15000 military personnel involved in the rocket branch alone, Hamas has evolved into a powerful fighting force that has in effect rendered useless Israel's tall separation walls, electric fences and barb wires, by the simple fact that its rockets can paralyze normal life in southern Israel and beyond for extended periods of time, i.e., an intolerable situation from the Israeli vantage point. Even if the actual physical damage is not great, the psychological effect and other geopolitical ramifications are unmistakable.
This might explain Hamas's new confidence illustrated in its demand for the lifting of the blockade as a precondition for a truce. As the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tours the region in a much-delayed truce initiative, the entire US policy of ignoring Hamas is put under new scrutiny, reflecting a failed US strategy that is simply unworkable. US must reckon with Hamas, and the sooner the better.
Via: "Middle-East-Online"

Norman Finkelstein says "Israel Suffered A Double Defeat"
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Israel has just suffered a historic defeat.
Israel suffered a double defeat
Its announced goal when it went into Gaza was to restore its “deterrence capacity.”

But at the end of the day its deterrence capacity had been drastically reduced:
The once mighty Israeli army that caused the whole Arab/Muslim world to tremble could not even defeat the impoverished and weaponless tiny enclave of Gaza.
Israel demanded an unconditional and unilateral secession of Hamas “rocket” attacks.
But Israel had to accept a mutual ceasefire. It also had to make promises regarding the siege of Gaza.

It is highly improbable that anything will come of these Israeli promises, but still, Israel could not unilaterally impose its will.
Let it, finally, be said:
In praise of the ever-martyred but ever-heroic and ever-renascent people of Gaza.
May they live to see the full brightness of dawn.
Via: "Information Clearing House"

Reality begins to sink in when, "Israel's Press Declares Victory For Hamas"
Influential commentators in Israel believe that Hamas came out ahead -- and that the Islamist group has now been elevated to the status of negotiating partner.
... most analysts agree that the current ceasefire bringing the Israeli Gaza operation "Pillar of Defense" to a halt is a positive development due to the return of calm to southern Israel. But in the Israeli press, Netanyahu's name was not among the victors listed on Thursday morning. Rather, leading commentators in the country agree that the primary beneficiaries from the week-long clash are the Hamas leadership and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who negotiated the truce.
A member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi's summertime election had led to significant distrust in the West. Now, writes Anshel Pfeffer in the influential Israeli daily Haaretzthe crisis has propelled Mursi into the role of an important regional statesman. The proof: As the ceasefire was being finalized this week, US President Barack Obama telephoned with Morsi multiple times.
Pfeffer emphasized that even Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman saw it necessary to thank Morsi for his role in bringing about a truce. Given Lieberman's hard-line stance, such a move counts as a mini-sensation in Israel.
After all, the Israeli foreign minister is hardly a fan of Egypt or Hamas, having in the past called for the bombardment of the Aswan Dam and demanded that the Gaza Strip be treated as the Russians do Chechnya.
Hamas too has managed to extract minor victories from the conflict, according to analysts: For one, the Islamist leaders of the Gaza Strip inserted a clause in the ceasefire agreement which calls for at least a partial lifting of the blockade Israel imposed on the Palestinian area after Hamas came to power in 2006.
Furthermore, the fact that the Hamas leadership didn't collapse in the face of heavy bombardment, along with the fact that their rockets continued to rain down on Israel throughout the conflict, has been interpreted as a success.
But even more important for the Islamists, according to Haaretz, is that their rockets were able to hit both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. And they were able to position themselves as a negotiating partner for the Israeli leadership, guaranteeing them a role as an actor in the Middle East for at least the immediate future.
Shiffer's colleague at Yedioth, Alex Fishman, would seem to agree. "Hamas has morphed from the enemy that must be brought down to the enemy that is the lesser of two evils," Fishman writes. Although Israel's official position remains that of not recognizing Hamas as a potential negotiating partner, he writes, Israeli leadership has now used the group to exert control over even more radical groups in the Gaza Strip. "Until just a few days ago, such ideas would have been considered blasphemy," Fishman writes.
The deal struck between Israel and the Islamists calls for an immediate stop to all aggression, to be followed by talks aimed at a lasting ceasefire. Border crossings into the Gaza Strip are also to be reopened soon. The goal is to make it easier for both goods and people to cross into the coastal territory following years of Israeli blockade. Hamas has said that the border crossings are to be opened within 24 hours of the beginning of the ceasefire. Egypt has been charged with monitoring the deal.
In the Gaza Strip, thousands took to the streets on Wednesday evening to celebrate what they see as a victory over Israel. Foreign journalists reported chaotic scenes of joy involving Hamas fighters firing machine guns into the air. Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal, currently in Egypt, has also claimed victory. The government in Jerusalem, he said, had failed with its military "adventure."

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