The lead article in the October issue of Commentary by Omri Ceren is Yes, Israel Won in Gaza.
Ceren’s central premise is that Hamas built a huge terror infrastructure including tunnels, an enhanced rocket arsenal and specialized training for its terrorists, but “[a]ll of it was gone by mid-August.” Hamas’ plans for a spectacular terror attack against Israel and a coup against Fatah in the West Bank similarly were stymied.
But what really grabbed me about the article was his description of the escalation:
In Gaza, Hamas radically escalated what had been, since the beginning of the year, a steadily increasing stream of rocket fire. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon had declared in January that Jerusalem would “not tolerate rocket fire” and that the “IDF and other security forces will continue to chase after those who shoot at Israel.” February saw more rockets and a large bomb planted on the border. In March, Hamas fired its heaviest rocket barrage since the conclusion of Israel’s 2012 incursion into Gaza—but then the fire steadily decreased throughout April and May.
It spiked again on the first day of June, when a rocket slammed into Israel’s Eshkol region. On June 11, another rocket was launched, this time barely missing one of Israel’s main transportation routes. That night the Israeli Air Force, aided by the country’s security agency, the Shin Bet, targeted a former Hamas police officer responsible for rocket attacks. By the end of the month, at least 65 rockets and mortars would be fired at Israel.
Meanwhile in the West Bank, amid the escalation that had already begun along Israel’s southern border, Hamas terrorists kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teenagers: Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach. Citing intelligence that had been convincing enough to generate immediate and definitive condemnations from Washington and Ramallah—information that later turned out to involve details of the coup plot aimed at PA President Mahmoud Abbas—the Israelis quickly blamed Hamas. They would later identify Marwan Kawasmeh and Amar Abu-Isa as suspects.
To be sure it’s important to know what Israel accomplished, but it’s also an important reminder as to why Israel was fighting, a point too often ignored.
Compare it with this recent synopsis of the fighting from The New York Times:
The abduction of the Israeli teenagers and the crackdown that followed fueled tensions and intensifying violence that culminated in a seven-week battle between Israeli forces and Hamas, which dominates the Gaza Strip. The three teenagers — Naftali Fraenkel and Gilad Shaar, both 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19 — were hitchhiking home from the yeshivas they attended in the occupied West Bank when they were kidnapped on June 12.
After their bodies were found 18 days later under a pile of rocks in an open field not far from Hebron, three Jewish extremists abducted a Palestinian teenager, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, 16, in his East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat, beat him and burned him alive as an act of retaliation.
Within days of the West Bank kidnapping, Israel blamed Hamas, whose leaders at first denied knowing anything about it. In recent weeks, though, and again on Tuesday, several Hamas officials embraced the suspected kidnappers as members of their armed wing and praised their actions, though no evidence has yet been made public showing that the men acted on Hamas’s direction.
In The New York Times’ telling the problems are “tensions and intensifying violence,” muddling what really happened. But Ceren makes it clear that the war was a consequence of Hamas’ escalation. (The IDF counted that Hamas had fired 450 rockets into Israel prior to Operation Protective Shield, while it had only fired 41 into Israel in all of 2013.)
Yes Israel won the war (despite the claims of Hamas and analysts who claim that Israel failed to achieve certain objectives), but what’s especially clarifying about this article is that it explains that Israel’s conflict with Hamas isn’t a dispute, rather it is a matter of defending a country from an enemy dedicated to its destruction.
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