'In the Middle East, if Hamas leaders feel and say they one – that must be the case'
Photo: Yotam Frum
Prof. Isaac Ben-Israel
Photo: Yotam Frum

Hamas' imaginary victory in Gaza war

Op-ed: The military balance in the recent round is so clearly in favor of Israel, that it cannot be concealed by any 'victory image.'

Throughout almost the entire history of mankind, most people lived in an imaginary world filled with demons, spirits and gods. Only from the start of the modern era (around the 15th century in Western Europe), man began paying attention to "real" data.



Even today, the modern perception is not shared by the majority of humanity. Is there any wonder that there are areas in the world where imagination plays an immensely greater part than the real facts of reality?


One of these areas is the Middle East, where imagination (or, if you will, "fantasy") has a leading role in life: Millions of people live in an imaginary world, in which any connection to reality is purely coincidental.


Gaza's residents who support Hamas are mostly offspring of War of Independence refugees. When they talk about the "occupation," they are referring to the occupation of 1948.


The terror striking Israel from Gaza is as old as the state. In the 1950s it was performed by cells of "infiltrators" who opened fire at vehicles in central Israel and planted explosive devices under houses on the outskirts of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, in the 1990s it was done through suicide bombers, and today it is done through rockets.


Technology has changed, but the motivation and terror remain unchanged.


Most of the people living in Gaza are not refugees, but the children and grandchildren of refugees. After World War II, tens of millions of refugees were scattered around the world, and they eventually settled and built a new life in a different place.


The offspring of the Palestinian refugees are, in this sense, a unique group: They have been waiting to return to their original homes for almost 70 years.


They live in an imaginary world, which has absolutely no connection to reality. But in the Middle East it's possible. In a place where a "victory image" can replace a "victory" – it's permissible.


Unrealistic dream

That's the reason why from the first day of Operation Protective Edge, there were people here who argued that "Hamas cannot be defeated." Not because it's a stronger organization than the IDF, or because it has unusual abilities.


On the contrary, within several days it turned out that the thousands of rockets it had accumulated (of which some 3,000 were fired) are incapable of killing civilians (thanks to technology in general and the Iron Dome system in particular). The antitank missiles, which hit many tanks during the Second Lebanon War and inflicted loses on us at the time, turned out to be useless versus the Active Trophy armored shield protection.


And even the jewel of the crown – the "offensive tunnels" – in which a huge amount of money and a decade-long effort were invested, were neutralized and detonated without succeeding in stopping or changing the course of the operation.


But, it was argued, Hamas can't be beaten because if it survives (and it will clearly survive, because we have no intention of killing thousands or tens of thousands of people), it will be able to claim victory.


The imaginary victory in the Hamas leaders' minds is enough. Victory, according to those who hold this opinion, is not measures in realistic terms but in "feelings." And if they "feel" and claim they won – that must be the case. 


It’s time to state the simple truth: The Palestinian dream (which is mistakenly called "the right of return") is unrealistic. The military (and diplomatic) balance in the recent round (Protective Edge) is so clearly in favor of Israel, that it cannot be concealed by any "victory image."


And one word about us: Part of the Israeli public, from the right and from the left, lives in an imaginary world too. Slogans like "the terror infrastructures must be destroyed once and for all" or "we must reach an understanding with Hamas about coexisting side by side" are nothing more than (alarming) signs of our integration in the Middle East. Here too, imagination has suddenly become more important than reality.


Israel's security leadership – the prime minister, the defense minister and the chief of staff – has managed the crisis sensibly so far. Let's hope it continues that way.


פרסום ראשון: 08.08.14, 23:54
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