I would not like to be in Benjamin Netanyahu’s shoes tonight.
By attacking Tel Aviv with its missiles, Hamas has crossed a major red line. No Israeli leader can ignore such an attack. The fact we have elections coming up in Israel makes it more difficult for the government to ignore today’s attack.
Tel Aviv is my city. I live here. Its my home.
As much as I detest and condemn Hamas’s attack today, I am not sure how a massive ground invasion is going to solve the problem.
Why? because our officials are saying that “Israel won’t halt Gaza operation until Hamas begs for truce”. In terms of domestic politics, Hamas would loath to be seen as “begging” for peace. It would lose all legitimacy at home. That would mean holding our troops as well as fate of our citizens hostage to Hamas’s domestic concerns. This must not be our exit strategy. If it is, then we are heading for an ending disaster as Hamas may prefer to engage Israel in a long drawn out guerrilla war in Gaza. This could sap the morale of our country while straining our relations with the international community.
Worst still, as my colleague Hossein Ibish points out in his interesting article, it could push Hamas and Morsi together. Lets not forget that when it comes to destroying Hamas tunnels, Morsi has done more than Mubarak did. Yes you read that right. Despite both belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood organization, Morsi has actually made life for Hamas quite difficult.
“So what do you suggest we do?”, I hear my compatriots and friends ask.
I think more time should be given for the air attacks to pound Hamas targets with maximum care that ordinary people are not hurt.
Meanwhile we should also engage the Egyptians. Instead of invading Gaza and pushing Morsi into Hamas’s corner, lets continue to make Hamas his problem. An invasion will not be in Morsi’s interests either. He has enough economic problems on his plate. With a major economic problem on his hands, he would prefer not to anger the Americans, and the EU by being seen to back Hamas.
So lets get the Egyptians to start a massive shuttle diplomacy to rein in Hamas attacks. If they manage to do this we in Israel would have averted a war and all its costs while Morsi could say that he is now the biggest power broker in the region.
The biggest loser would be Hamas. Not only it would be confronted by a Muslim brotherhood diplomatic onslaught, it would come out of this conflict losing its most senior military official Ahmad Jabari, and its credibility. And if it decides to break the truce, it would have Morsi to answer to. He is a lot more difficult to avoid than Netanyahu.