Jan 22, 2009

But, Mr Prime Minister: Hamas HAS Won

By Stan Goodenough

“I cannot entertain the notion that any Israeli would tell the Hamas that they basically won. If someone does this, I will face off against him with full force.” - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, January 18, 2009.

Are there any Israelis committed enough to the truth, and sufficiently in touch with reality to face the “full force”of Olmert’s ire? I am sure there are.

That the outgoing prime minister even needed to voice this threat tells the story.

It must be said loud and clear. And if it is not said, time will shout it out:

Hamas did win.

Hamas won this round as surely as their brothers in Lebanon – the Hizb’allah – won the Second Lebanon War.

Olmert’s declared goals for that war in the summer of 2006 – the release of kidnapped Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev – and the driving back of the Hizb’allah from Israel’s northern border, were not met. Hizb’allah celebrated its victory as the the IDF left Lebanon, rearmed with rockets that can reach Tel Aviv and even further from the north, and staged a massive victory parade in Beirut after using the mutilated bodies of Regev and Goldwasser to secure the release of the infamous Arab child murderer, Samir Kuntar.

And in Gaza, after the ceasefire, Hamas still holds Gilad Schalit. It has celebrated its victory, parading through the streets of Gaza City, and it’s chief sponsor, Iran, is already working on ways to arm the group with longer range rockets that can reach Tel Aviv from the south.

Rightist Israeli Knesset Member Avigdor Lieberman warned Tuesday that within a year Hamas will have stocked its arsenal with missiles capable of reaching the Mediterranean metropolis.

This very night the Egyptian and US navies are reportedly scouring the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea for a ship carrying 60 tons of arms destined for Hamas.

“The cargo consists of 50 Fajr rockets whose range is 50-75 km, scores of heavy Grad rockets, new, improved launchers whose angle of fire can be precisely adjusted, tons of high-quality explosives, submachine guns, rifles and pistols and armor-piercing missiles and shells (of types used successfully by Hizb’allah against Israeli tanks in 2006). - DEBKAfile, January 20, 2009.

If that shipment does not get through, the next will. As reported in the Israeli press Wednesday, smuggling tunnels between the Sinai and Gaza are already back in operation.

It was not that long ago that warnings were aired about Hamas extending its rocket range to Ashdod and Beer Sheva. Lieberman’s words about the threat to Tel Aviv will, likewise, come to pass.

A Hamas victory was never going to be the defeat of the IDF and the driving of Israel to surrender. Islamist groups like Hamas grow stronger by demonstrating a willingness to take on and fight the “Goliath” and by then being able to still hit Israel after Israel’s army has ceased firing.

The Israeli lives that were lost in Gaza these past two weeks, like the Israeli lives lost in Lebanon in 2006, could put the violence on hold for a little while. But if the job is not completed; if Hamas and Hizb’allah are not crushed, what will the sacrifice of these lives then mean?

Hamas won Operation Cast Lead, just as it won Operation Summer Rain in 2006, the same year in which Hizb’allah won what Israel called the Second Lebanon War.

The Arabs won. And Israel lost. And no amount of blustering or threatening by the prime minister can change this or conceal it.

Just wait and see.