As troubling as the conflict in Gaza has been over the last few weeks, today the world woke up to news that should really have people worried : early reports that Hamas had quickly broken an a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire, followed by news that an Israeli soldier had been kidnapped in Gaza.
It's no surprise that Hamas, which does not care how many Gazans die in this conflict, quickly abrogated the ceasefire. It should also be no surprise that Hamas kidnapped a soldier - just yesterday the media reported an attempt by terrorists to capture the body of a fallen Israeli soldier, and only through the brave actions of an IDF commander were they stopped. For Hamas, attempted kidnapping is to be expected.
All of that being said, it still struck me initially as a stupid move, since I highly doubt Israel would make another prisoner trade as they did in order to get Gilad Shalit back. If a prisoner trade is what Hamas is looking for, then this was indeed a strategic error.
But the more I think about it, the more It seems that Hamas is not looking for a way to free fellow terrorists, per se, but to provoke the strongest possible Israeli response. If this is the scenario, then Hamas is trying to accomplish two things with this action: to draw the IDF deeper into Gaza, where it will be easier for the terrorists to attack Israeli soldiers, and at the same time to cause more death and destruction within Gaza that they can blame on Israel.
While Hamas is undoubtedly celebrating this abduction, it is no victory for the people of Gaza or the dream of an independent Palestinian state. In fact, it is a tragedy for both Israel and the Palestinians. This incident ( and the miles of terror tunnels dug beneath Israel) should send a clear signal to all of those who said, only a few months ago, that Hamas could become a partner for peace, that this organization has only one real goal: to destroy the State of Israel.
No one can say with certainty what will happen next, but whatever it is, it won't be good.
Now the waiting begins.
Copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2014.