Infinity Journal Volume 2, Issue 2, Spring 2012 - page 25

Volume 2, Issue 2, Spring 2012
Infinity Journal
Page 23
Hamas is to maintain periods of quiet, with the lowest level of
violence that can be achieved over as long a period of time
as possible, in order to exploit the quiet for economic and
social development for Israel.
Israeli strategy relies on Israeli deterrence. Israel is attempting
to preserve the relative quiet that has been created since
Operation Cast Lead. The status quo allows Israel to absorb
the level of terror emanating from Gaza (mainly rockets and
mortars fired at open areas) while maintaining a defensive
posture along the border fence with Gaza, and with
occasional attacks against terrorist infrastructure from the air.
From time to time escalation occurs as a result of “breaking
the rules”by one of the parties,followingwhich the exchanges
of fire from both sides of the border increase. However, the
mutual interest of both parties to avoid escalation helps to
maintain the“cease fire”. Israel is prepared for broader action
against Hamas and uses this level of readiness to deter it
from uncontrolled escalation of its activities or those of other
terrorist organizations who act under its protection in Gaza.
The Israeli strategy is, therefore, one of maintaining the status
quo at an acceptable level of terrorism while preparing
for a broad operation, and deterring the other party from
This strategy is rational since a logical connection can be
seen between the employment of a measured degree of
force during the status quo period and deterrence from
escalation, and the achievement of Israel’s principal political
objectives during that time, namely, to develop its economy
and society while deterring its enemies from escalation.
An interesting phenomenon may be observed, in which
the strategies of the parties do not exactly conflict with
one another. Hamas is interested in resistance, and Israel
manages to absorb a certain level of terrorism in order not to
escalate into war.This is the reason that an ongoing situation
of low intensity confrontation has been able to exist over the
years between Israel and Gaza. So long as Hamas prefers the
very act of resistance to the attainment of the principal goal
of Israel’s liquidation, it will keep its level of activities within
limits that Israel can live with. Israel, on its part, will attempt
to extend the period of relative tranquility in which it absorbs
the low level of terrorism that it is prepared to accept. Israel’s
primary goal is to exist and develop. Peaceful borders are,
of course, preferable to a situation of ongoing terrorism, but
if terrorism continues at a tolerable level, Israel will prefer
the option of economic and political development over a
decision to go to war against Hamas.
Why Asymmetry Cannot Win – “The Amorites Iniquity”
In the“Covenant between the pieces”(Genesis 15,13-16),the
Almighty makes a promise to Abraham that he will inherit the
land, but not just now – “since the Iniquity of the Amorites has
not yet reached its full measure”. In other words, Abraham’s
descendants will inherit the land but only after the Amorites,
who are living in the country, have sinned enough and their
iniquity becomes total. Without addressing the issue of the
problematic nature of this morality and the meaning of “free
will” in a promise of this kind, the principle that the other party
is going to reach is a situation in which its iniquity will cause
its downfall, which well illustrates the reality of Gaza.
Based on its strategy, Hamas is a “resistor”. Its terrorist attacks
against Israeli civilians are gradually accumulating. So long
as the level of terrorism remains low, Israel’s response is
not substantial. On the one hand, Hamas can continue its
activities. On the other hand, this activity does not advance
Hamas in the achievement of its ends since Israel can easily
absorb it.
In such a situation, in which Hamas and Israel are acting with
restraint, it is the parties’ ability to withstand attacks that is
being tested, and not their relative strength (since they are
restraining themselves). Hamas can carry on its strategy
of “resistance” and even feel that it is implementing it well
through such resistance. As stated, Hamas does not have
to examine its strategy against the probability that it would
achieve its ends (an irrational strategy).
If Hamas’ efforts become too “successful” (more Israeli
casualties) it will approach the point at which the Israeli side
can no longer exercise self restraint, and will resort to serious
In this situation in which Israel responds with great intensity,
the parties are evaluated on the basis of their relative
strength, and, as stated, the Israeli side is far stronger in terms
of firepower, as well as the size and effectiveness of the army.
A strategy of “resistance” is no longer sufficient since Israel is
acting with great strength. Since Hamas is also escalating
its activities, Israel’s legitimacy of action increases, removing
some of the restraints against the implementation of force
applied by Israel’s military instrument. The damage caused
to Hamas itself and to civilians and infrastructure in Gaza
following the collapse of the “humanitarian defense” is
immense and harsh – the Sin of the Amorites has reached
its full measure!
The inherent problem in the strategy of “resistance” may
thus be discerned: it can succeed so long as it is not too
successful, and if it is too successful, it fails. However, this
estimation of the strategy has been made by a rational
observer who is attempting to discover the connection
between the terrorism of resistance and the achievement of
Hamas’ principal objectives. Nonetheless, as stated above,
these are not the irrational eyes through which Hamas looks
at itself. Hence, although to a western observer a strategy of
“resistance”appears to be pointless, and it may be expected
that it will be abandoned, it well matches the approach of
Hamas that attaches value to its very resistance.
As stated above, there is no need to ask which strategy is
better, but only to examine how the strategy of each party
counters that of the other. Rationally speaking, Hamas’
strategy does not guarantee the achievement of its stated
ends, and consequently Israel is not required to employ full
force against it.
The fact that a situation is likely in which both parties are
satisfied with their own strategies is what permits the existence
of a (limited) ongoing confrontation, the price for which is
being paid by both parties, who are not getting any closer to
a situation of peace or resolution.
The Amorites Iniquity – A Comparative Analysis of Israeli and Hamas Strategies in Gaza
Gur Laish
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