Israel’s Revenge Would Be Better Served Cold

Hamas is going nowhere…

[Note from BenIndy contributor Roger Straw: After the heartbreaking and unforgiveable slaughter of Israeli innocents, now there is heartbreak and unimaginable devastation in Gaza.  This Washington Post analysis is spot on….]

GAZA CITY, GAZA – OCTOBER 13: Palestinians displaced from their homes as a result of Israeli raids on October 13, 2023 in Gaza City, Gaza. Israel has sealed off Gaza and launched sustained retaliatory air strikes, which have killed at least 1,400 people with more than 300,000 displaced, after a large-scale attack by Hamas. On October 7, the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel from Gaza by land, sea, and air, killing over 1,300 people and wounding around 2,800. Israeli soldiers and civilians have also been taken hostage by Hamas and moved into Gaza. (Photo by Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images)

Analysis by Marc Champion | Bloomberg, October 13, 2023

Israel’s 24-hour notice for more than 1 million civilians to evacuate Gaza City by midnight, dubbed impossible by the United Nations, suggests a ground invasion is imminent. Why the rush?

Hamas is going nowhere. It is by now clear that the purpose of Saturday’s attack and its haul of at least 97 hostages was designed precisely to draw Israel into a massive response on Gaza’s densely populated urban battlefield. There’s time to prepare Hamas’s destruction, rather than dance to its tune. The terror group has had years to prepare its defenses, so let it wait a little longer; they won’t improve. The pressure to move in quickly is political.

The slaughter of Israeli civilians last weekend ensured that Hamas lost, as my colleague Bobby Ghosh has written, the war of images. The group has forever been consigned to the same murderous category as Islamic State. But as in all other aspects of warfare, such early losses and victories can be overturned and the risk for Israel is that its ground invasion succumbs to exactly that.

Supplies of water, power and food to the territory’s 2 million-plus inhabitants have been cut, a crime against humanity, according to Francesca Albanese, the UN’s special rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories. As of Thursday, the Israel Defense Forces said it had dropped more than 6,000 bombs on Gaza. Human Rights Watch says it has confirmed the use of white phosphorous, an imprecise weapon that can cause horrific burn injuries. Already, more than 1,500 people have been killed and over 6,000 injured in Gaza since the air strikes began, according to the local health authority. The toll from a ground invasion with the city’s population still in place would be much, much higher.

This is what Hamas wants and planned for. The consequences of Israel losing the information war would be huge, perhaps as significant as anything it can achieve on the battlefield. It would enrage popular opinion in the so-called Arab Street, pressuring otherwise friendly governments to break ties with Israel and take sides against it. It would, equally, ignite Palestinian feeling on the West Bank, Jerusalem and even within Israel, potentially opening a second, internal front. It would increase pressure, too, on Hezbollah — which objectively can’t afford a war right now — to open a third front from Lebanon. That, in turn, would increase the risk of a regional war that includes Iran, something that its foreign minister threatened on Friday, while on a tour of allies in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.

There are no winners in this scenario, other than the Iranian regime, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (he’d enjoy the distraction of Western attention from Ukraine) and Islamist terror organizations across the Middle East. Nor can it leave other parts of the world untouched. Already, France has announced a ban on protests involving Palestinian flags, for fear they lead to pitched battles with police. In the UK, a charity said anti-Semitic incidents quadrupled in the four days after Saturday’s attack, compared with the same period a year ago.

Israel has no good choices. The border crossing from Gaza to Egypt remains closed, with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi saying Palestinians should “stay steadfast and remain on their land.” Hamas also has told Gaza City residents to stay put, fully aware that “victory’’ in this conflict depends on expanding it beyond Gaza, which in turn requires a blunt Israeli invasion to deliver large-scale civilian casualties and the images that go with them.

The cynicism of Hamas is breathtaking. These are fanatics. The Israeli government can’t afford to give its enemies what they need in order to portray it as equivalent. It will count for nothing to say an invasion’s civilian casualties are collateral damage — as opposed to the deliberate murder of more than 1,000 Israeli civilians by Hamas — if the time and preparations needed for a credible attempt to reduce them aren’t taken.