There was never any doubt that, for Hamas, continued violence in Gaza was the real path to victory. A mere 90 minutes into a three day ceasefire, as Israeli forces moved to destroy a tunnel—an activity permitted by the truce—Hamas militants emerged from the tunnel and engaged. Two soldiers were killed, one was captured, and the ceasefire was ended.
Palestinian authorities contest the timeline set forth by Israel, asserting that renewed Israeli attacks began before the kidnapping of the IDF soldier. Israel has dismissed these claims completely and vowed to rescue their man. The violation of the ceasefire has been condemned by the White House, and prompted the UN to question Palestinian good faith in the pursuit of peace.
About time. Hamas has no interest in peace. As long as the fighting continues, Hamas continues to win the hearts and minds of the world public. The Iron Dome ensures that Israel, though incessantly provoked by rocket fire, will always appear to be using disproportionate force in its attempts to eliminate Hamas’s military capabilities. More Gazans must die for the sake of propaganda, sacrificial lambs on the altar of global opinion.
Beyond the sick simplicity of this public relations strategy, the surprise attack by Hamas and the consequent kidnapping has an enormous strategic payoff. Israel takes its POW situation very, very seriously. It is a tiny nation and nearly universal compulsory military service makes most of the nation veterans. The Israeli public does not tolerate captured soldiers remaining in captivity and has in the past gone to enormous ends to guarantee the safety of imprisoned troops.
Past negotiations for the return of a single Israeli captive have resulted in the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. The capture of 2nd Lieutenant Hadar Goldin this morning gives Hamas a diplomatic advantage in future military parleys, though at the cost of an international diplomatic defeat. That defeat, it seems clear, is only temporary.
The world’s outrage at the violation of the ceasefire will hardly be a setback to Hamas. As Israel first attempts to regain Goldin by military means, they will surely, in the chaos and brutality of war, kill more Gazan noncombatants, and again appear to be the aggressors in the world’s eyes. Already, the IDF has called Gaza’s largest hospital to advise them to evacuate, as they would bomb it soon. The death toll for the day in Gaza was 121.
Public opinion around the world has a short memory. It will soon be forgotten that it was Hamas who broke the ceasefire, after a mere hour and a half. Israel is single-minded in its goals of stopping the rockets, obviating their threat, recapturing its missing son. Gaza will continue to look like hell once more, and Israel like it deals in brimstone. But it is Hamas that embraces war, and Hamas that embraces hell, for war to the noncombatant is truly hell.