Saturday, February 16th | 11 Adar I 5779

July 23, 2018 12:28 pm

Will Hamas Heed Israel’s Warnings or Will War Follow?

avatar by Yoav Limor /

Email a copy of "Will Hamas Heed Israel’s Warnings or Will War Follow?" to a friend

Hamas supporters take part in a rally celebrating the 30th anniversary of the group’s founding in Gaza City on Dec. 14, 2017. Photo: Reuters / Mohammed Salem.

JNS.orgGaza’s rulers may not realize it yet, but Israel ‎has run out of patience. A few more bouts of arson ‎terrorism and a full-fledged escalation could follow.‎

For some reason, Hamas has convinced itself that ‎Israel’s warnings are just for show. Its leaders ‎believe that the recent military exercise ‎simulating a ground operation in the coastal enclave ‎is merely a scare tactic, the massive Israeli ‎airstrikes are a hollow show of force, and ‎Israel is far too focused on its border with Syria ‎to engage with Gaza.‎

These assumptions are fundamentally ‎flawed. Senior government and defense officials are ‎unanimous in saying that Israel’s patience is exhausted. Many still believe that the IDF should not ‎launch a military campaign over incendiary kites and ‎balloons, especially since arson terrorism has yet ‎to claim any lives (something ‎war will do), but ‎these voices are growing ‎increasingly faint. ‎

Meanwhile, there is a consensus among decision-makers ‎that Hamas has exhausted the opportunities offered to curb border riots and kite terrorism.‎

Related coverage

February 15, 2019 12:08 pm

30 Years Later, the Rushdie Fatwa Is Still Chilling Speech

Thirty years ago, on February 14, 1989, the Iranian cleric and politician Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini formulated his famous fatwa against...

Still, politicians or pundits who think Israel is ‎eager to go to war are wrong. Israel does not want ‎to launch another military campaign in the Gaza ‎Strip, which is why it has been sparing no effort to ‎find other countermeasures to quash border riots, terrorist ‎attacks, and the onslaught of arson terrorism.‎

Over the past few months, every possible avenue has ‎been used to relay this message to Hamas, from ‎envoys — mainly from Egypt, but also from Persian ‎Gulf states, Russia, the United States, and the European Union — to more blunt ‎instruments, such as targeting kite terrorist cells, ‎bombing Hamas posts, and destroying Hamas cross-border terror tunnels.‎

When all else failed, Israel shuttered the Kerem ‎Shalom cargo crossing, the only such crossing in ‎Gaza. The move did not affect humanitarian aid ‎delivered to the Strip, but it crippled commerce, ‎thus dealing Hamas a double blow, targeting tax ‎revenues and making the situation worse for the lives of Hamas’ subjects in Gaza.

The Israeli Defense Ministry’s decision last week to ‎temporarily suspend the delivery of petroleum fuels ‎and natural gas ‎to Gaza was coordinated with Egypt, ‎which temporarily shuttered the Rafah crossing as a ‎last-ditch effort to make Hamas come to its senses.‎

Still, it’s doubtful that Hamas leaders understand ‎that they have pushed Israel to the brink. With containment no ‎longer an option, a clash seems inevitable — but only ‎Hamas will make that call. ‎

Israeli defense officials remain convinced that ‎Hamas would rather avoid a war, but this is largely just ‎an assumption. Furthermore, ‎Hamas (like the IDF) has carried out several ‎tactical moves in recent weeks that demonstrate that the terror group is ‎ready for war.‎

A prominent player trying to prevent another bloody ‎clash between Israel and Hamas is Egypt. But even if ‎Cairo’s efforts prove successful in the short term, ‎Hamas is unlikely to make a strategic U-turn, ‎bringing us right back to the growing assumption ‎that a conflict with Gaza will take place this ‎summer.‎

Extinguishing arson terrorism is an important ‎objective but it is not a strategic one. Before we ‎rally the troops, the government has to clearly ‎define the objective of this operation. Restoring ‎peace and quiet on the southern border is a solid ‎starting point, as long as it is used to introduce ‎a strategic shift in the reality opposite Gaza.‎

Yoav Limor is a veteran Israeli journalist and columnist for Israel Hayom.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

Share this Story: Share On Facebook Share On Twitter Email This Article

Let your voice be heard!

Join the Algemeiner