Our enemies would love to forget the past year, as all of them made major mistakes in their assessments, and for that they paid, and are still paying, heavy prices. Compared to them, our mistakes were very minor.
Hamas’ mistake: Hamas leaders believed their own rhetoric and that of Hizbullah. They truly believed that Israel will bow down before them, that it would be scared to enter Gaza, and that it would certainly refrain from going in deep. We can see the amazement on their face to this day. Their arrogant and belligerent displays have disappeared. Hamas now understands: It is merely a small organization that jailed itself and its society in a bottle.
In contradiction to its own lies, Hamas sustained a decisive military blow and has trouble recovering from it. The smuggling tunnel network it built is indeed helping it to get stronger, yet improved Egyptian efforts are making this more difficult.
Hizbullah’s mistake: Nasrallah made two grave mistakes this past year. His forces’ entry into western Beirut shattered his position in Lebanon and presented Hizbullah for what it is: A sectarian Shiite organization that merely makes pretenses of fighting Israel. The elections for the Lebanese parliament will be held next month, and at this time the group’s status is at a low point. Hizbullah is again being perceived as a dangerous militia that can push the country into confrontation, even though there are fears that pro-Syrian organizations will “steal” the elections, through fraud.
Nasrallah’s second mistake was made this month, when he admitted that the terrorist Sami Shihab is a Hizbullah man. Even though he was detained back in November, the Egyptians took out all their anger on Shihab, and through Nasrallah launched a campaign to rehabilitate their regional status. Mubarak gravely undermined Nasrallah’s image, or whatever is left of it.
Ahmadinejad’s mistake: The Iranian president, who will apparently end his part in history on July 12th, attempted to blame Israel for all his misdeeds: Harsh international isolation, deep economic sanctions, boycotts by the banks and on top of it a drop in oil prices.
Just like Hamas and Hizbullah, Ahmadinejad believed his own lies. He believed that the world is surprised and charmed by him. He will be paying a price for this, and he is already starting to understand this. Therefore, he recently softened his stance: Yes, he will be willing to recognize Israel, should it reach an agreement with the Palestinians.
Assad’s mistake: As opposed to others, Syria’s president was captivated by Hizbullah, yet today he already understands the Shiite manipulation, and he is being cautious. When his nuclear reactor was bombed in September 2007 he did not retaliate, and he knows why.
Assad did not believe that the international tribunal for the assassination of Rafik al-Hariri that may incriminate him would be established. Yet there, despite all the tricks of evasion, murder, concealment and deception, the tribunal is active. The Syrian president is worried. He hoped to use the old trick of “use Israel, and then throw it away” in order to gain legitimacy, as was the case during the days of Rabin, Barak, Netanyahu and Olmert, and for a few days he indeed courted the Netanyahu government – yet this time he encountered Netanyahu’s and Lieberman’s tough stance and the trick failed.
Mubarak’s mistake: Egypt’s president is not an enemy of Israel, he really isn’t, yet he is a rival, and Mubarak made a mistake after Gaza was occupied by Hamas in 2007. He viewed the Strip as a remote point that is intimately connected to Israel, and he did not wish to understand that the moment the Philadelphi Route has opened, this became his problem too, for the first time since 1967.
Now he understands this very well. The uncovered Hizbullah terror connection was meant to grant legitimacy to the aggressive move he is adopting at this time against activists of Hamas, political Islam, and the Palestinians. Egypt is again looking at Gaza, and Gaza is again looking south to Egypt. The only one that can disrupt this process is Israel, should it reopen its crossings to Gaza.
This was a good year for Israel that boosted its deterrent power. We should always be prepared to face anything, but we are also allowed to watch with pleasure as our enemies become entangled.