What Hamas Hoped to Achieve
Victor Davis Hanson clarifies in American Greatness what proportionality means: Proportionality is a synonym for “lethal stalemate,” if not “defeat.”
When two sides go at it with roughly equal forces, weapons, and strategies, the result is often a horrific deadlock —like the four years of toxic trench warfare on the like the four year of toxic trench warfare on the Western Front of WWI that resulted in 12 million fatalities.
Every war is a humanitarian crisis, notes the WSJ’s Daniel Henninger. What might have been a puzzlement on 7 October, today, with the world’s focus on civilians suffering in Gaza, we have the answer as to why Hamas committed the 7 October atrocities:
- Engage in acts so barbaric that Israel would retaliate.
- Take hostages that Israel would insist on rescuing no matter how difficult it would be, as with its 1976 commando raid at Uganda’s Entebbe airport.
To retaliate and free hostages, Israel would have to go into Gaza. Assuming Hamas fought back, there would be firefights among Gaza’s population.
Mr. Henninger argues, “The wholly predictable sequence of events since 7 Oct. has produced what Hamas wanted—a global event defined as Israel causing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”
Eradicate International Sympathy and Support
Hamas has a political strategy: “to create a humanitarian-crisis war, lifted from the pages of the American left’s playbook. “
The human tragedy in Israel and Gaza has touched the world because so much of it falls outside the boundaries of civilized life. But the political reality is that Hamas now has a situation familiar to anyone who understands the importance of what the modern left calls “framing” an issue. Or more commonly, building a political narrative.
Mr. Hanson lists the disproportionate things Israel either cannot or will not do:
- Hamas spent a year planning a preemptive butchery spree inside Israel, targeting unarmed elderly, women, children, and infants, mostly asleep at a time of peace and holiday.
- Hamas sought to collectively shock Israel into paralysis by the sheer horror of decapitating civilians, burning babies, mass raping, and mutilating bodies. Another aim of Hamas was to blame Israel’s “occupation” for turning Gazans into veritable monsters.
- Hamas gunmen took more than 240 hostages back with them to Gaza.
- Hamas shot more than 7,000 rockets into Israel, all aimed at civilians.
- Hamas sought to create a multibillion-dollar tunnel city beneath Gaza.
- The subterranean headquarters of Hamas elites, along with weapons depots, were strategically placed under hospitals, mosques, and schools to “shield” Hamas from Israeli attacks.
- Hamas forced the civilians of Gaza to remain among the street fighting. often shooting those who resisted and killing Gazians who fled.
- Hamas bragged that it could repeat strategies 1-7 endlessly on the supposition Israel would tire,the world would turn against it, and it at last could murder enough Jews to end Israel altogether.
A No Win
Israel, a country of about 9 million, faces a virulently hostile 500-million-person Arab Middle East, and every insurgent killed has a son or a brother. In responding to defeating Hamas, Israel still cannot conduct a fully disproportionate war without endangering:
- its source of military resupply in the U.S.
- a wider conflict in the Islamic world.
So the war continues, concludes VDH, as Hamas strives for a disproportional terrorist agenda to prolong the war and Israel strives for a disproportional retaliation to end it.