The dog that bites
I wrote last week that sometimes the dog needs to bite in order to keep your house secure. This weekend, the Israeli Air Force took a big bite out of HAMAS. As of day 5 of the way, the Air Force is running out of high profile targets. Israel has lowered the frequency of attacks and has let at least one hundred trucks carrying supplies into Gaza. HAMAS has responded by firing at least 35 long range rockets into Israel this morning.
My conclusion is that HAMAS wants Israel to begin a land war (in Asia). Having shown that they cannot do anything against the Israeli Air Force, they are desperate to prove their legitimacy as a military power. Firing rockets into Israel accomplishes nothing except to piss people off (and to cause damage and death, but HAMAS does not care about that). HAMAS would have all the supplies it wanted (non-military) if they had stopped lobbing rockets at Israel.
HAMAS therefore wants Israel to start a land attack. They believe that they can reproduce the success of Hizbalah from the Second Lebanon War. If they are correct, then Israel will indeed be shown to be unable to enforce any lasting agreements because they will never be able to enter the opposing territory.
Countering the HAMAS position, is the belief that Israel is not stupid. The Israeli Army should have learned some lessons from the last war. Only by doing so could they feel confident that the current war is winnable (that is, that the goals of the current war are achievable).
So on the one side, HAMAS believes that it has set a trap for the Israeli Army, and the Israeli Army believes that it knows what to expect and how to counter it.
At the current rate of progress, we will know the answer to this question within the next few days.
Let's list the options:
A) Israel counters the HAMAS traps and/or HAMAS folds --> Israel wins the war and imposes peace terms
B) HAMAS traps the Israeli army and inflicts terrible casualties and then Israel stops because it cannot accept further casualties --> HAMAS wins and Israel looses a major part of its deterrence. In such a case, I would expect Syria and Lebanon to join in this war, because they will then be able to make political gains once a cease fire is reached on their (HAMAS, etc. ) terms.
C) HAMAS inflicts casualties, but Israel sees no choice but to finish the job --> HAMAS looses, and Israel is left with a pyrrhic victory. The rockets stop falling and the current Israeli government looses all credibility.
I'm hoping for option (A). In my view, its the only way we are going to see peace with an enemy whose sole reason for being is our destruction.