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Charles Krauthammer's op-ed column on the Israel-Gaza war
What did Hamas hope to gain from this latest round of fighting, which it started with a barrage of about 150 rockets into Israel? To formally translate Hamas' recent strategic gains into a new, more favorable status quo with Israel.
Hamas' new strength comes from two sources. First, its new rocketry, especially the Fajr-5, smuggled in from Iran, that can now reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, putting 50 percent of Israel's population under its guns.
Second, Hamas has gained strategic strength from changes in the regional environment. It has acquired the patronage and protection of important Middle Eastern states as a result of the Arab Spring and the Islamist reversal in Turkey.
For 60 years, non-Arab Turkey had been a reliable ally of Israel. The vicious turnaround instituted by its Islamist prime minister, Recep Erdogan, reached its apogee on Monday when he called Israel a terrorist state.
Egypt is now run by Hamas' own mother organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is simply the Palestinian wing. And the emir of Qatar recently visited Gaza, leaving behind a promise of a cool $400 million.
Hamas' objective was to guarantee no further attacks on its leaders or on its weaponry, launch sites, and other terror and rocket infrastructure. And the lifting of Israel's military blockade, which would allow a flood of new and even more deadly weapons. In other words, immunity and inviolability during which time Hamas could build unmolested its arsenal of missiles--until it is ready to restart the war on more favorable terms.
Yet another hudna, this one brokered and guaranteed by Egypt and Turkey, regional powers Israel has to be careful not to offend. A respite for rebuilding, until Hamas' Gaza becomes Hezbollah South, counterpart to the terror group to Israel's north, with 50,000 Iranian- and Syrian-supplied rockets that effectively deter any Israeli pre-emptive attack.
With the declaration of a cease-fire on Nov. 21, Israel seems to have successfully resisted these demands, although there may be some cosmetic changes to the embargo. Which means that in any future fighting, Israel will retain the upper hand.
Israel has once again succeeded in defending itself. But, yet again, only until the next round, which,
Charles Krauthammer is a columnist