by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
[W]ith Hamas and other Gaza terrorist groups having kidnapped 240 people, and heavy pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his fellow ministers to secure their release, it was impossible as a practical matter to pass on an opportunity to free dozens of women and children from the clutches of Hamas. …
… The fact that Hamas was willing to negotiate a four-day cease-fire, and then eager to extend it by another two days, is a testament to the fact that Israel’s campaign in Gaza has so far been effective. Employing their military edge in the land, sea, and air, Israelis have gained control of most of northern Gaza, killed thousands of terrorists, uncovered stashes of weapons, and begun to dismantle or disable Hamas’s vast network of underground tunnels. The success of Israel can most dramatically be seen by the fact that rockets, which had been fired at Israeli civilians by the thousands in the early days of the conflict, have been launched much less frequently.
But there is still a lot more work to be done. Hamas is still in power; it still controls large parts of Gaza, including its stronghold in Khan Younis, the largest city in the southern part of the Strip; much of the terror group’s underground infrastructure is believed to remain intact; and its senior leadership is still alive, obviously including those living in Qatar.
In the coming days, as the temporary cease-fire expires, there will be growing international pressure to make it permanent. But that would bring an end to the war with Hamas still in power and able to rebuild. Abandoning the primary Israeli objective of destroying Hamas in exchange for the release of more hostages would only encourage Hamas and other terrorist groups to take more captives in the future, with the understanding that doing so will ultimately protect them.