For the past 30 days the world has focused its attention on events in Gaza, as Israel has responded to an endless wave of rocket, mortar and missile attacks initiated by the terrorist group Hamas. As Israel has sought to neutralize this threat by targeting terrorists, Hamas has consistently aimed its weapons at civilians with the explicit goal of killing as many non-combatants as possible.
It's a stark contrast and one which I, and many others, have pointed out
time and again. But the threat posed by Hamas is not limited to
indirect fire (mortars and rockets) nor is it a new danger which
suddenly appeared at the start of July 2014. While I am hopeful that a
ceasefire will hold sometime soon, there are significant reasons to
worry that even if the rockets stop that Hamas will not give up its
strategic objectives and simply shift tactics, something which they have
demonstrated capacity to do in the past.
Since it's founding in 1987 by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the stated goal of
Hamas has been the destruction of the State of Israel. For years, Hamas
has done everything it can to not only launch direct, violent assaults
on Israeli civilians, but to derail any diplomatic or political movement
toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
With Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and the construction of the
security fence, the number of suicide bombings dropped as Hamas and
other terror groups were forced to shift their approach on the ground.
Over the past few years residents of the Israeli town of Sderot and
other communities close to Gaza have lived in constant terror from
rockets fired out of the strip. And occasionally, as was the case in
2009, 2012 and now 2014, these rocket attacks have expanded and
intensified to the point where Israeli leaders felt a need to respond in a direct and
This summer, during Operation Defensive Edge, the next iteration of
Hamas tactical terror was revealed to the world, as the IDF began to
uncover an elaborate network of tunnels beginning in Gaza and ending
inside Israel. These tunnels, which were constructed with supplies originally intended for schools, hospitals and housing, were
built to facilitate the murder and kidnapping of Israeli citizens. This fact alone should provide sufficient indication that while ending the rocket fire is very important, such a success
would only be a tactical victory, since Hamas is clearly devoted to
developing multiple methods to spread mayhem and murder.
I would like nothing more than for a real ceasefire to be declared, and
for Hamas and the subordinate terror groups it controls (Islamic Jihad,
etc.) to actually cease and desist from attacking Israel. This would be
a significant thing, and likely represent a crucial first step in viable
Unfortunately, I am not optimistic that the current ceasefire will be extended tomorrow night - and it's not only about the rockets - there may be additional tunnels, and this week we also saw attacks by terrorists using guns, knives and even a tractor inside Israel. The proponents of Palestinian nationalist terror
have no intention of stopping, regardless of what the UN, the US and of
course Israel, desire.
If Hamas stops firing rockets and the children of Gaza and Israel can
sleep more soundly tonight as a result, I am happy. But until Hamas is
disarmed and dismantled, no one can guarantee that a few days, a few
weeks, a few months from now, the conflict will not flare up again. It
may be missiles from Gaza or a shooting attack in Jerusalem or a bombing
in Tel Aviv, but one way or another Hamas will make its malevolent presence felt again - sadly, of that I have no doubt.
Copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2014.