Don't let Hamas think it won
Long before Operation Pillar of Defense, the residents of Israel's south were being subjected to rocket attacks launched by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and their cohorts in the Gaza Strip.
In the Arab world and in the international community this was long ignored, but when Israel decided to retaliate with Pillar of Defense, the old familiar ritual began: European leaders rushed to offer Israel advice on how to run the operation and Arab leaders again cried out in condemnation of Israel for bombing secret weapons stores in Gaza. Now that a cease-fire agreement has been struck with the help of the U.S. and the U.N. chief, Hamas is regarding the agreement as a victory.
Though Hamas did agree to the terms of the truce, it is fair to assume that it will violate the agreement when the current crisis in Gaza dissipates. Hamas will act the way the Prophet Muhammad behaved toward the people of Mecca when he signed the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, which was intended to ensure peace for 10 years. He violated it two years later after amassing enough military power to continue his conquests.
Hamas dreams of dragging the Israel Defense Forces into a war in Gaza and inflicting many casualties, the same way the Muslims fought the "infidels" in Medina in the seventh century in the Battle of the Trench (and eventually emerged victorious).
Our inherent love of life and peace-seeking inclinations conflict with the combatant ideology behind the Islamic concept of jihad, which is shared by al-Qaida, Hezbollah and Hamas. In light of these organizations' relative military inferiority, their objective is to be a constant pest to their enemy and prevent us from conducting peaceful lives. For them, it is not about winning a war, because their struggle is not over territory; it is simply aimed at spilling Jewish blood. Hamas fights to defend Islam and to establish a Muslim caliphate, which, by definition, has no boundaries. This war doctrine is focused on the long term, and Israel must exercise a lot of patience.
In the meantime, it is important that we explain our difficult reality to our friends in the world.
Israeli declarations about our powerful army and public remarks outlining our achievements in battle do not deter Hamas, because Hamas is not fighting the IDF. Hamas is fighting the soft underbelly of our nation — civilians in their homes and students in their classrooms. This war, as far as the terror organizations are concerned, is simple, and cheap.
Israel's failure to strike a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority so far has stemmed from fundamental differences in mentality. Both Fatah and Hamas refuse to accept a Jewish presence in the Middle East: Hamas opposes the existence of Israel, and Fatah, while having recognized Israel's existence in the Oslo Accords, does not recognize it as a Jewish state. This mentality is founded on fundamentalism and religious zealotry. We are talking about a society, frustrated by political and social failures, that has taught its children to blame colonialism and Zionism for their own shortcomings ever since the 1967 Israeli "occupation." Therefore, it would be futile to expect a positive change among Palestinians, especially Hamas, in the foreseeable future.
At this stage, it is important not to give Hamas the sense that they have emerged from the most recent clash victorious. If we allow them to believe that they did achieve a victory, we will face a far fiercer battle in the future, possibly even the very near future. We need to aspire to topple Hamas' leadership. Throughout history, terror organizations have only ceased to exist and propagate their murderous hatred once their leaders were eliminated.