When deterrence deteriorates – shoot fiercely / Ron Ben-Yishai

Analysis: The worse Hamas' financial distress becomes – and the later international aid arrives – the more the organization will fire at Israel.
Yossi Yehoshua

Four months after the end of Operation Protective Edge, one thing is already clear: The deterrence the political echelon and the IDF have been talking about so much is fading away. Can anyone remember the calm we were promised for many years after the latest round of fighting or the declarations that Hamas "was hit so hard that it won't even try to raise its head" – just like Hezbollah after the Second Lebanon War? 

Analysis: Exchange of fire on Gaza border was not accidental; Hamas prepared for it ahead of time and is using Israel as a lever to create pressure to speed up the reconstruction of Gaza. IDF understands this and is trying to respond firmly. Meanwhile, Hamas' military wing is quickly preparing for next conflict. This time, it's an extremely serious incident, precisely because it's got Hamas' name written all over it. And if it were not for the excellent medical treatment the force gave the wounded soldier, the incident could have ended with a dead IDF soldier. In the past few months, we have been witnessing a drizzle of rockets into Israel. On Friday, it reached the areas of Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak. No one could argue that the IDF strike which came in response to that incident was unnecessary: It targeted a concrete factory which produces the infrastructure for Hamas' offensive tunnels. But Wednesday's incident completely contradicts the estimates voiced by Israeli sources that Hamas is not involved in the rocket fire executed by rebel organizations. Now there is no doubt: The attack was carried out by a Hamas sniper, and the organization claimed responsibility for it and warned Israel not to retaliate.

 IDF forces on Gaza border after Wednesday's exchange of fire (Photo: Roee Idan)

 The assassination of Taysir al-Samiri, the commander of the al-Qassam Brigades' surveillance unit in the Khan Younis area, was random and was not preplanned. It was in fact a strike in the standard IDF retaliation procedure against Gaza fire, which happened to hit a senior Hamas member who was present in the area According to claims heard in the IDF's headquarters, it was a "local initiative" and it is quite possible that the leaders of Hamas' military wing were not aware of it. Many officers are convinced that the public in Gaza is still licking its wounds over the destruction left behind by Operation Protective Edge. We must admit, however, that this explanation is reminiscent of the days before the operation and of the alarming difficulties in understanding the enemy's operation patterns and intentions.The drizzle of rockets and Wednesday's sniper incident point to a different trend: We will not be able to continue the instinctive procedure of dismissing Hamas' responsibility due to the fact that it carried out arrests among the rebel organizations. This is a misrepresentation of the situation.Hamas is no longer deterred: It continues to test rockets by firing them into the sea, it is rehabilitating its military abilities, building posts near the fence and trying to rebuild the tunnel infrastructure. Hamas is in distress, mainly financial distress. The worse it becomes – and the later international aid arrives – the more it will fire at Israel. This means that the clock is already ticking fast towards the next round of fighting.

Israel’s Critics Say Nothing as Hamas Rebuilds Tunnels With International Aid

Jonathan S. Tobin | @tobincommentary

Five months ago Hamas rained down rockets on Israeli cities and attempted to use a tunnel network to infiltrate into the Jewish state and kidnap and kill as many Jews as they could. But predictably most of the world’s attention was focused on Israeli counter-attacks to suppress the missile fire and take out the tunnels and it came under severe criticism, even from its American ally, for the toll of civilian deaths that were caused by Hamas using the population of Gaza as human shields. But those who deplored the 50-day war as a tragedy for the Palestinian people now need to ask themselves whether they are really interested in watching another such round of fighting in the future. The same international community that blasted Israel for having the temerity to defend itself now needs to address the fact that the aid that is pouring into the strip for the purpose of rebuilding homes destroyed in the fighting, is actually being used to rebuild the terror tunnels. If they don’t, they’ll have no right to criticize Israel when it is once again forced to act to defend itself.

As the Times of Israel writes, the Israel media is reporting that:

Some of the cement and other materials being delivered to the coastal Palestinian territory, as part of an international rebuilding effort, has been diverted to the tunnels.

The story goes on to detail some things that can’t come as a surprise. Even as it rebuilds its terror tunnels, Hamas is replenishing its supply of missiles and rockets. Given that the group has just kissed and made up with Iran, the flow of money and munitions into the strip by one means or another is bound to increase.

Though expected, this does increase Hamas’s leverage over the Palestinian Authority, which isn’t interested in making peace with Israel but will certainly never do so while it remains under threat from its erstwhile unity partner. Though many in Israel and elsewhere assumed Hamas would emerge weakened from a war in which Gaza was flattened and little material damage was done to the Jewish state, it is more popular than ever (especially in the West Bank which did not suffer much from the terror group’s murderous policies) and may soon be as much of a threat to Israel as it was before the fighting started. Indeed, if, as reports indicate, Hamas is working on ways to defeat Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system succeed, the danger will be far worse the next time the terrorists decide they wish to try their luck.

That is a daunting prospect for Israelis and poses difficult questions for Prime Minister Netanyahu who is now criticized for his handling of the war even if most of his critics would not have supported a bloody campaign to evict Hamas from Gaza and thus eliminate the threat for the future.

But it should also pose serious questions for those countries like the United States and its European allies that were so quick to bash Israel for its efforts to silence the missile fire and demolish the tunnels.

This week, both American and European diplomats wasted their time negotiating over the text of a United Nations Security Council resolution that would recognize Palestinian independence proposed by the PA. The proposal was a non-starter that in the end even the Obama administration had to oppose, but the talk about Palestinian independence ignored the fact that there is already an independent Palestinian state in all but name in Gaza that is using its autonomy to continue its never-ending war to destroy Israel.

By acquiescing to a situation in which a criminal terrorist group not only continues to rule over a captive population and threaten war against a neighboring sovereign state but also standing by silently as Hamas creates the conditions for another terror war, the West is demonstrating its moral bankruptcy on the Middle East. Those who talk about helping the Palestinians cannot ignore the fact that what Hamas is doing is preparing to set in motion a chain of events that will lead to more bloodshed and suffering. By their silence and, even worse, refusal to halt the flow of material that is being used by Hamas to prepare for another war, they are morally responsible for every drop of Arab or Israeli blood that will be shed.