Update: Stirling has more details, but his key point is that violence must now either fail or succeed before negotiation is possible.
Israel has expressly said that “any Hamas” is a target, including political leadership, opening the way for assassination. This, coupled with the intentional deception through diplomatic channels spells the end of any negotiated settlement until there has been a military outcome.
Well, so much for peace. Looks like Siun was right, and the deliveries yesterday were just a pathetic public relations ploy. Israel managed to assassinate the police chief, governor, and security chief. A first strike bombing like this can do a fair bit of damage, as it did, but Hamas will now disperse its people and assets, and future bombings will be less effective. Hamas missile counterattacks killed, oh, one person.
Air power, in the end, doesn’t do squat in a war like this. The leaders killed will be replaced, and not by moderates. The missile attacks (which are scary but essentially ineffective) will continue. Gazans will hate Israelis even more. To get anything “meaningful” accomplished Israel has to invade on foot—they have to search for the missiles and the missile production centers.
When they do, they put themselves at risk. Hamas has destroyed Israeli tanks in the past, and has spent the last couple years building up a small military forced modeled on Hezbollah. If they can adopt Hezbollah’s open terrain tactics to city fighting they could inflict some reasonable damage. Because of the small size of Gaza, it’s unlikely that they can win tactically, but politically, the goal is just to show Israel that they can’t take Hamas out using military force and that they can’t slap Hamas around without taking enough casualties to notice.
This is the lesson Israel was taught by Hezbollah during their invasion—that their issues with Hezbollah cannot be solved with military force (which is why, in the end, the Israelis made the prisoner exchange they said they fought the war to avoid.)
Israel keeps thinking it’s going to get a cheap peace or that its problems with the Palestinians can be solved with violence. Short of full-scale ethnic cleansing they can’t. Nor can they make peace with their lapdogs in the Fatah, the only people who might be able to enforce a peace are Hamas. You have to make peace with your enemies and it has to be those enemies who are able to enforce peace. Only Hamas can do that. Fatah can’t and Israel can’t, and they can’t bomb or assassinate Hamas into peace either.
But this is what the Israeli people seem to want, according to polls, so it will continue. Israelis will get what they’re voting for, which isn’t peace, however much they may deceive themselves to thinking they can bomb their way to it.