Sunday, December 28, 2008

Israel's gamble

The recent operations in Gaza have all the hallmarks of the 2006 war against Hezballah in Lebanon. However, this time the stakes are much higher because an inconclusive outcome would be devastating for Israel.

In this article, Ethan Bronner highlights the sense that Israel's foes are simply not as afraid of it as they once were. Hezballah's 33 days of staunch resistance were seen as the model to emulate when confronting Israel's military superiority. Bronner talks about Israel's need to 'show its teeth' once again. Herb Keinon echoes Bronner's analysis by writing in the Jerusalem Post about Israel's desire to "crush the will to fire rockets". Hence, Israel is looking to reshape the regional security structure by reestablishing the perception of traditional power balances.

This is a huge gamble for Israel. If Hamas keeps fighting and if the Palestinians rally around them in Gaza, the Israelis will have no choice but to intensify the conflict. This might only strengthen Palestinian resolve. Every day of prolongued fighting will also intensify the pressure on Israel's backers, most of all on the Egyptian government of Hossni Moubarak (the most populated Arab country) - which at the moment holds Hamas responsible for the conflict. A failure by the Israelis in Gaza would likely mean the end of political cover provided by Egypt. Finally, this operation may only solidify the Syrian-Iranian alliance which the Israelis were trying to break through indirect peace talks with Damascus.

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