The Whole Middle East Is Counting on Israel to Destroy Hamas

(Mosaic) Evelyn Gordon - Saturday's horrific attack on southern Israel was made possible by Israel's 2005 pullout from Gaza. Terrorism from the West Bank has never approached this scale; the Second Intifada (2000-2004) didn't achieve in four years what Hamas did in two days from Gaza - over 1,200 fatalities (civilians and soldiers). And the key difference is Israel's military presence. Israel's presence in the West Bank makes it much harder for Palestinian terrorists to build up massive arsenals. That's why virtually no missiles are fired at Israel from the West Bank even as Hamas fires thousands from Gaza every few years. After Israel's pullout from Gaza, a new theory arose: yes, Hamas is a nuisance, but a small terrorist organization can't really do Israel much harm from across a well-guarded border. That theory collapsed completely on Saturday. Despite Gaza's ongoing humanitarian nightmare under Hamas rule, polls consistently show that its leader, Ismail Haniyeh, would trounce Fatah's Mahmoud Abbas if Palestinian elections were held today. Its enduring popularity is precisely the result of its single-minded focus on Israel's destruction, a goal that most Palestinians - including Fatah members - unabashedly share. In the context of these widespread Palestinian beliefs, Hamas' attack makes perfect sense. Many Gazans described the attack "as the beginning of the liberation of Palestine," Ha'aretz reported. The future of Israel's relations with the Arab world depends on its response. The Abraham Accords, the possibility of normalization with Saudi Arabia, even the peace with Jordan and Egypt all rest on one fundamental belief: Israel is a regional power, both militarily and economically, and it isn't going anywhere, so relations with it make more sense than vain dreams of its destruction. If Hamas can deal Israel a blow of this magnitude and emerge only slightly damaged, the Arab world will conclude that Hizbullah's leader Hassan Nasrallah was right: Israel is just a spiderweb, too frail to contribute anything to its regional partners.

2023-10-12 00:00:00

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