Part 1 of analysis
Two Baraks were making headlines around here last week: First, former Supreme Court Justice Aharon Barak, whose name was mentioned as a possible candidate to head a commission that would look into the IDF’s conduct in Operation Cast Lead; second, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who was not scared by the arrest threats of Islamo-British attorneys and did not leave Britain alarmingly as they expected of him. In that case, the person responsible for restoring our deterrent power after years of operational faltering avoided a miserable choice that could have gravely eroded the deterrence he achieved.
Israel no doubt managed to restore its deterrent power vis-à-vis Hamas in the wake of Cast Lead. Statements about “Israel’s madness” again became common among residents sitting in ruined living rooms in Gaza and Rafah. Nobody claims that the winter campaign in Gaza was a sterile one. When an armed terrorist opens fire while using a breastfeeding mother as a protective vest, only fairytales would have soldiers lay down their arms and ask the mother to pray on their grave.
It is possible that Israel’s public relations establishment failed to present the true photos from Gaza, where terrorists were cynically exploiting humanitarian situations. It is also possible that these images were indeed passed on, yet nothing could make a difference in a cynical world ruled by institutions such as the United Nations’ human rights commission.
Hamas’ propaganda machine quickly grasped the moral and electoral risk inherent in such deterrence, and sought a way to neutralize its impact on the Palestinian public. Hamas attempted to counterbalance the deterrence effect through public relations and legal acts undertaken by this illegal organization.
Indeed, the propaganda and legal campaigns it manages across the world are highly sophisticated: They do not defend “the Hamas terror group,” but rather, “Gaza residents.” They do not operate in the Gaza Strip, which immediately prompts associations of terror, but rather in sterile European legal arenas; they do not represent gangs of abductors and murderers of soldiers, but rather, appear as though they are altruistically representing orphans and widows from Jabaliya, disabled Palestinians from Dir al-Balah, and homeless individuals from Beit Hanoun.
Part 2 of analysis to appear Monday evening
Colonel (res.) Moshe Elad served in various senior posts in the territories. At this time he serves as a lecturer at the Western Galilee Academic College