“If the war ends in a draw, as expected, and Israel refrains from re-occupying Gaza, Hamas will gain diplomatic recognition,” wrote Aluf Benn, a political analyst, in the newspaper Haaretz on Friday. “No matter what you call it,” he added, “Hamas will obtain legitimacy.”
In addition, any potential truce deal would probably include an increase in commercial traffic from Israel and Egypt into Gaza, which is Hamas’s central demand: to end the economic boycott and border closing it has been facing. To build up the Gaza economy under Hamas, Israeli leaders say, would be to build up Hamas. Yet withholding the commerce would continue to leave 1.5 million Gazans living in despair.
Implicit in Mr. Benn’s argument, however, is that the only way to stop Hamas from gaining legitimacy is for Israel to fully occupy Gaza again, more than three years after removing its soldiers and settlers. That is a prospect practically no one in Israel or abroad is advocating.
Moreover, while it may sound decisive to speak of taking Hamas out of power, almost no one familiar with Gaza and Palestinian politics considers it realistic. Hamas legislators won a democratic majority in elections four years ago, and the group has 15,000 to 20,000 men under arms. It has consolidated its rule in the past 18 months since pushing out its rivals loyal to the more Western-oriented and moderate Fatah party of President Mahmoud Abbas, who sits in Ramallah in the West Bank.
And while there are plenty of Gazans who would prefer Fatah, they seem hardly organized or strong enough to become the new rulers, even with the help of former colleagues in exile in Ramallah who say, anyway, that they would never be willing to ride into Gaza on the back of an Israeli tank. In fact, the longer Israel pounds Gaza, the weaker Fatah is likely to become because it will be seen as collaborating.
There's a reason the Palestinians are peeved at the Israelis, and the cause isn't Hamas; Hamas is the result. The cause has to do with Israelis mistreating Palestinians.
Someday these nuts might learn that they can't kill their way to peace.