The Tunnels of False Hope

devoted so much  to war preparations, by some estimates 40 per cent of
its budget, Hamas created the capacity for a major strike on
…..the capacity to launch a  co-ordinated attack involving thousands
of the approximately 15,000 fighters…..

Imagine the 26/11 attack in Mumbai (2008) multiplied 100 times, this would be a veritable nightmare for Israel with hostage situations continuing for days and body-count in the 1000s. As an attack it would rate ahead of 9/11, 7/7 and all others. The ummah would be chanting the names of the Hamas fighters for the next thousand years.  

The problem is that while bending Israel, such an attack will probably not break it. In the larger scheme of things, tunnels, even sophisticated ones constructed more than 60ft below the ground can be blown up (again). Israel will be thinking out a cavalry of defensive measures (for example, strictly regulate the cement that passes through its checkpoints).

As of now Hamas has only two solid allies in the Sunni Middle-East: Qatar and Turkey. Shia Hezbollah sat out this war when it could have lent a hand. Shia Iran will not probably mind bank-rolling a few more misadventures but its own boundaries have suddenly become shaky. Israel may well choose to play a tit-for-tat game in Kurdistan – it supports full independence for the Kurds. Jordan and Egypt are definitely hostile to Hamas (and they matter the most as Israel’s neighbors). Syria is in utter chaos and will never recover to be a threat to Israel (if it ever was). All this will be a serious cause of concern for Hamas going forward.
Hamas also can not depend on anti-semitism in the West to be able to get to score free-kicks. The West may not like Jews, but it likes Muslims even less, forget islamists such as Hamas. To a non-muslim Westerner (majority Christian background), there is not much distinction between the Taliban (Malala shooters), Boko Haram (Chistian girl kidnappers), and the ISIS (Christian church destroyers).

How about China, Russia, India? Simply put, they all have their own Palestines and they hate islamists. Only in Latin America (and especially Brazil) do we see unequivocal support for Hamas/Palestine. 
Israeli security thought it had adequate intelligence about Gaza. It
was in for a surprise. It was not just the labyrinth of tunnels
discovered, much more extensive than expected, but the stockpiles:
thousands of weapons, Russian anti-tank missiles, explosive devices, and
large amounts of tranquillisers, handcuffs, syringes, ropes. The tools
of capture on a large scale.

Some of the tunnels are very deep,   big enough to hold vehicles.
They were dug with electric jackhammers, mostly about 20 metres below
ground, and reinforced with concrete made on site, in workshops adjacent
to the tunnels.

The tunnels served as command centres, infiltration points into
Israel, weapons stores, rocket-launcher hiding sites, and the means to
move and conceal fighters during urban combat. The tunnels dug into
Israel were created in parallel pairs, with multiple shafts to the
surface for multiple entry points. Inside urban Gaza, the labyrinth
could allow fighters to move unseen between homes and alleys.

Gaza had been wired for war. On a scale more advanced than Israeli
military intelligence realised, which is why the Israel Defence Forces
lost more than 40 soldiers in the first phase of Operation Protective

Areas of cities were laced with hundreds of booby-traps. The
commander of the IDF Gaza Division, Brigadier-General Mickey Edelstein,
said that in a single street in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, his
soldiers had found booby-traps in 19 of 28 homes. Three Israeli soldiers
were killed by an explosive device when they entered a building
designated as a United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine
Refugees. The IDF has conceded it was surprised by the scale of the bomb
traps across Gaza.

Israel is thus engaging in very limited ground combat in Gaza, given
the whole area is a booby-trap of explosives, ambush and civilian
targets. The largest known military control centre for Hamas was placed
in the basement of a hospital.

The IDF’s use of bombing has created a heavy civilian cost.

‘‘Hamas planned these tunnels for years, and planned to use them to
kidnap soldiers,’’ chief spokesman for the IDF Brigadier-General  Moti
Almoz told a recent media briefing.

Actually, since then it has emerged that Hamas had a much broader
agenda. Kidnappings can deliver psychological blows to Israel but not
strategic ones. Hamas wanted strategic blows. It wants jihad. ….

devoted so much  to war preparations, by some estimates 40 per cent of
its budget, Hamas, with Iran, created the capacity for a major strike on

Israeli intelligence is assembling evidence from the tunnel labyrinth
and from captured Hamas members, that the scale of the effort was to
have the capacity to launch a  co-ordinated attack involving thousands
of the approximately 15,000 fighters Hamas has trained in Gaza.

Hamas had also doubled its rocket arsenal between 2012 and this year,
with hundreds of missiles with the range to reach Jerusalem and Tel
Aviv, according to head of IDF military intelligence research
Brigadier-General Itai Brun. Bigger missiles had been on their way in
March, supplied by Iran and sourced in Syria. But the cargo ship Klos-C,
an Iranian vessel under a Panamanian flag, carrying a load of M-302
surface-to-surface missiles, was intercepted by Israeli Navy special
forces in the Red Sea.

With each revelation in recent weeks, the mood in Israel is that
Operation Protective Edge has averted a catastrophe for the country, a
mass terror attack, emerging from underground, incubated by the
implacable hatred of Hamas.

The sheer scale of the war infrastructure revealed guarantees that
Israel is far from done with this operation. It does not yet know the
full scale of what was built and it wants this springboard of war and
attrition destroyed. Tunnels have also been discovered in the West Bank,
some stocked with bomb-making materials.

This is why the Israel government and  public reacted with fury when
US Secretary of State John Kerry suggested last week that Israel agree
to a ceasefire which included a cessation of its operation to find and
destroy tunnels. The proposal was deemed preposterous. (Numerous
references to Kerry’s facelift reflected the scorn with which his
intervention was held.) 

Even famously pacifist Israeli author Amos Oz
has been moved to condemn Hamas for creating a web of warfare through
the civilian population of Gaza. At the other end of the political
spectrum  Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, the leader of the
nationalist Jewish Home party, said of the war preparations uncovered:
‘‘Without the ground operation, we would have woken up one day to an
Israeli 9/11.’’

Such is the nature of the Israel-Palestinian debate that many people
regard all this as Israel reaping what it sows. Even as Israel strikes
against a war machine, it is blamed for creating the conditions which
created the threat.  

The result of this logic trap – and the differing
standard applied to killings by Jews and killing by Muslims – is that
more media coverage and outrage has been directed at Israel for the
unintended deaths of children in Gaza than has been directed at the
butchery of Muslims by Muslims, on a massive scale, in  Iraq and
elsewhere. In Syria alone, three years of  war have seen between 120,000
and 170,000 people killed, including more than 11,000 children. This
violence has spilled into Iraq, with atavistic massacres of prisoners by
jihadis from Islamic State.

The deep animosities which are the ultimate source of this bloody
absolutism could even be heard on the streets of Sydney last week, in
the chants of demonstrators, some waving the black flag of the Islamic
State: ‘‘Palestine is Muslim land … Jew and Christian will not stand
… From Lakemba to Gaza … You can never stop Islam.’’





Brown Pundits