Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hamas Fighters Flee Positions in Gaza City

From Ha'aretz:
Said Sayyam and Salah Abu Shreich, two senior Hamas figures, were killed in an air strike in Jabaliya. The home of another Hamas leader, Mahmoud al-Zahar, is surrounded. Infantry, armor and special forces are operating in the center of the city, very close to the Hamas "security quarter" southwest of the city, where most of the command and control centers of the group are situated. 

Even in the center of the city, Hamas gunmen are opting to avoid direct encounters with the IDF. In most cases they are choosing to escape along with thousands of civilians. The Hamas announcement in Cairo two days ago began the countdown toward a cease-fire. 

The army sensed Hamas' weakness when units left their defensive positions in the Zeytun neighborhood. Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi approved the assault and forces reached the center of the city through the gap. On the way, the IDF killed most of the members of a unit comprising militants trained by Iran. 

The latest move has is risks. The IDF is constantly concerned that a single mistake may lead to mass killing of Palestinian civilians, or a surprise attack by Hamas that may affect public opinion in Israel. 

Hamas-Gaza may try for one more dramatic round, but as of now, it is close to collapse. This does not mean the end of Hamas, but in combination with an effective diplomatic settlement, it implies a significant improvement in Israel's position. The civilian population of Gaza will remember Israel's cruel campaign; however, the Palestinians will also remember the sight of Hamas fighters fleeing before the advancing Israeli forces. Hamas has indubitably been weakened, and in the long term, its shortcomings in this war will make the organization more hesitant about launching attacks on Israel.

As Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff argue, it would be best for Israel to leave a diminished Hamas in power rather than destroying all central authority in Gaza. The key to a post-war settlement will be to involve the Egyptians in a reconstruction of civilian infrastructure in Gaza. B

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

all these hamas fighters, which didn't stand a chance in this fight, that were killed will easily be replaced by more radical islamic fighters. thats the history of the resistance in palestine.
israel has alwayed used the policy of 'might is right' and to punish the resistance so bad that it will think twice before resisting again. this strategy only works if your enemy fears you, which the palestinians and hizbulla don't. thats why hamas will be still in charge with the full support of the people of gaza and most probally the west bank as well.fatah can only control the west bank with the help of israel.the real damage will be to fatah not hamas