We won! Victory is ours! We accomplished our goals!
The internet was abuzz. Facebook celebrations. Twitter propoganda. The stench of the spin doctor. If only it were so.
Netanyahu and his crew are spitting out lies faster than they can print them. The copious declarations of our victory in Gaza. Military experts explaining to us how badly Operation Protective Edge damaged Hamas. (Funny how these same experts also maintain that a protracted campaign would require five years and cost us the lives of unknown numbers of Jewish soldiers. If this is the case, then they merely made a tiny dent into an absolute monster of a terror network.) Naturally these carefully well crafted statements were to be expected, yet they are still terrible to read. Military minds using pseudo-babble to argue a ridiculous assertion. The same kinds of expert voices that swore to us that Gaza would never become a place where rockets could reach Israel. The illusion of victory.
The truth is painful. We lost. We are reeling as a nation, while Hamas gloats. Fatah is watching, and so is Hezbolla. And you better believe that Iran is taking notes. Don't think for a moment that the image of the IDF pulling out of Gaza doesn't embolden them.
Politicians can twist the story, but the facts say otherwise. When one looks at what Hamas accomplished and where Israel stands today, there can be no discussion. Hamas defeated Israel. They don't need to demolish us or invade the country to seize a victory. During this long dry summer season, we had plenty of rain in Israel. Deadly storms. A month of qassams and death raining non-stop upon the country. A tiny country where, by the IDF's own estimates, at least 70% of the populace are within the rocket range.
While Hamas fought like hordes of blood crazed jinn, Netanyahu undermined the war effort by appeasing Obama and Kerry and allowing world diplomacy to take over. Weeks of government spokesmen whining about “our rights.” Countless lectures and TV interviews extolling Israel's code of “moral warfare” from right out of the pages of the Mapai manual. This is Israel's policy of skewed mercy, which Nachmanides rightly called “the mercy of fools.” One unilateral nonexistent ceasefire followed by another, and then another. What was the end result? Vulnerable Jewish soldiers waiting around while Hamas slaughtered them. Many soldiers died, not in combat, but rather while waiting around to resume combat during Bibi's sham ceasefires.
Hamas Accomplishments: The Facts
- Infrastructure and Leadership Largely Intact: The Hamas leadership is breathing and smiling. Operation Protective Edge didn't reach them for the most part. Hamas retains an unknown labyrinth of fortified tunnels. We have no idea how many tunnels remain, because the IDF was focused on the ones that crossed our border. And while we are on the discussion of tunnels, how was such a complex network which required years to build constucted right under our noses? Did our leaders know about them and remain quiet? Or is Israel's security so severely compromised in the 21st century? Edge: Hamas
- Arsenal: Hamas retains a huge arsenal of rockets and they easily can replenish what they lost. It won't be long before they start firing at us again. This will be alright with Bibi until they start aiming at Central Israel. The double standard of the western Negev is intolerable and repugnant, and it is indicative of the discrimination of the Israeli elite. Translation: The primitives of the South can endure rockets. Wars are fought when Tel Aviv leftists are in the crosshairs. Edge: Hamas
- Psychological Terror: 1)The communities of the extreme western Negev (adjacent to Gaza) do not want to return to their communities. Unlike many unfortunate impoverished people in places like Sderot, some of these agricultural communities actually have the economic means of picking up and leaving the region for a while. The desire to do so is certainly normal. They are terrified by the prospect of hidden tunnels beneath their homes. They don't want Arabs with hatchets popping out of the floors in their kids' bedrooms.
2) The country as a whole was placed under siege for more than a month. Children spent the summer in/near bomb shelters. Most of Israel endured weeks of sirens and long days and nights of terror. Now they will have to cope with the psychological effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The populace most vulnerable to rockets feels betrayed and frightened. They wanted to see Hamas destroyed so that they could continue their lives. They wanted this more than anything. Operation Protective Edge failed to bring them this peace of mind. Edge: Hamas
- Economic Terror: Hamas succesfully shut down the Israeli economy. Summer tourism was brought to a halt. Hamas has no industry nor do they care to develop one. Every cent that they receive either lines the pockets of Hamas leaders or is used to murder Jews. Edge: Hamas
- Deaths: Hamas killed many Jews, both soldiers and civilans. They maimed and mutilated.
And what about the injuries which always get lost in the equation?
What about young people in the prime of their lives who will now have to live with missing limbs or worse? What about those who are so disfigured that they wish they were dead?
Even the morally bankrupt leaders of Israel don't want to see murdered Jews. Hamas deliberately puts their populace in harm's way to increase the body count. The lives of their own people are like ants to them. Edge: Hamas
- Military Morale: By playing the kinds of games we expect from those without souls, Hamas fought the IDF to a standstill. Human shields, terror institutons built on top of “civilian” infrastructures, all of these played into their hands. They knew that Israel would be reticent to respond with collateral damage, and that the world would scream for Jewish blood if they did so. We can hear and read grumblings of frustration from military commanders and soldiers. The prestige and morale of the IDF took a hit despite the capability of the soldiers. There is no one to blame but Bibi and his Likud constituency. He had a mandate to fight, and he chose diplomacy. Hamas doesn't need to defeat us to claim a victory. Fighting Israel to a draw and forcing them to back out is an absolute victory. Edge: Hamas
A Thin Ray Of Light
I will not spin the negative angle, yet Am Yisroel can glean some positive signs from this terrible period.
- The IDF is comprised of strong committed soldiers who can destroy Hamas and the other enemies of Klal Yisroel if given the chance. They are capable.
- From a national persective we saw unprecedented unity. Wonderful to behold after the season of Tisha Baav, since tradition cites unbridled hatred and rifts among Jews as a contributing factor behind the destruction of the Second Temple. The chesed that Jews displayed in Israel and abroad was remarkable.
But wars are fought to be won. And Jewish wars of Milchemet Mitzvah have one purpose. Destroy the enemies of Israel to protect the Jewish people and the land of Israel. Wars must be judged solely on their outcome. So let's not candy-coat the poison pill. There was no victory. Hamas won. Even a temporary cessation of terror is a ruse. We had an opportunity to destroy Hamas, and we squandered it. Milchemet Mitzvah has no use for diplomacy, ceasefires, non-Jewish notions of humanitarian aid. When the time comes to raise the Jewish weapon of violence, war is a sacred duty and it must be fought properly and without compromise. We had an opportunity and an obligation to destroy Hamas. Netanyahu ignored the moment.
We fast on Tisha Baav to mourn the destruction of the Temple, and countless other tragedies throughout Jewish history. We cannot proceed on the path to redemption if we avoid the halachic requirements that we must fulfill in our times. There are many other wars to wage. Hamas is just one of many Arab/Islamic enemies. Fatah equals Hamas.
In order for Moshiach to come, we need to build up the degraded Jewish psyche, long before we rebuild the actual Beit Hakmikdah. It is essential to learn the Halachot of animal sacrifice, the laws of purity and impurity, and the structural dimensions of the Temple. But it is not enough. Just look at the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque atop Har Habayit. Islam dominates and defiles our most sacred site. Sometimes the Arabs riot and throw boulders upon the heads of praying Jews.
We cannot build the Beit HaMikdash if we cannot see the grotesque travesty and chillul Hashem of Arab/Muslim domination in Eretz Yisroel. A sick soul that cannot see the degradation of the Jew in Eretz Yisroel can never attend to the preservation of the Jewish body.
While we mourn our dead in Israel, Hamas celebrates their victory in Gaza. The “civilians” of Gaza who collectively voted for Hamas will dance like cannibals at a feast, as they hand out sweets, and revel in Am Yisroel's collective pain.
This is the portrait of Amalek. And so, in accordance with the tenets of their bloodthirsty ideology and their eternal war with The Almighty, it won't be long before the sirens start to scream again.
Featured in the Jewish Press: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/operation-protective-edge-the-ugly-truth/2014/