November 18 2012
The Israeli attack has now entered its most lethal but also most uncertain phase. Israel will not launch a ground invasion because it will not risk significant IDF casualties but, on the other hand, it cannot insure few casualties unless it blasts to rubble everything on every side of it. However, it can’t do this because it does not have a monopoly on news coverage. There are too many foreign journalists who will testify to a new Israeli rampage. (One reason Israel is targeting journalists is, obviously, to terrorize them into leaving.) Such a rampage would mean not only alienating foreign opinion but also putting neighboring Arab/Muslim countries in the position of having to do something to preserve their credibility, and also these governments for their own self-interest really don’t want to let Israel continue with its periodic rampages. However, Hamas so far won’t concede unless it gets something in return (e.g., ending the siege), whereas Israel will not let Hamas declare victory. It demands an unconditional and unilateral end to Hamas rocket attacks. So, we have a stalemate, and without a ground invasion, Israel’s only leverage now is to “accidentally” kill civilians, because all its “military” targets have already been hit, and it needs to terrorize the Palestinians into submission. So, the question becomes, who blinks first? Will the Israeli terrorist attacks force Hamas to accept complete defeat, or will the Arab-Muslim states and international public opinion (including the US behind the scenes) force Israel to desist from its terror attacks without Hamas committing itself to a unilateral ceasefire, or force Israel to make some concessions, say, on the siege? It’s impossible to answer this question one way or the other with any certainty. One amusing side note to all this is how the media is rewriting Operation Cast Lead. It’s saying that Israel is now using more precision weapons and has learned the lessons of Operation Cast Lead, which is why fewer civilians have been killed. In fact, 90% of the air weapons Israel used in OCL were precision weapons. In fact, the real reason there are fewer casualties this time is that in OCL the goal was maximum destruction and minimum IDF casualties. This time they can’t get away with such a goal because they remember the international outrage after OCL and because this time they weren’t able to seal the border and prevent foreign reporters from entering. Even the New York Times reportage from Gaza is not bad the past few days. In a word, it’s different this time because this time Israel realizes it will have a much harder time getting away with murder.