Israel

Leading Israel Columnist: Hamas Wanted This War Despite Israeli Restraint

Nahum Barnea, one of Israel’s best known columnists who writes for the daily Yedioth Ahronot and is often a critic of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wrote a column today observing that “Hamas is doing a lot” to provoke Israel into invading Gaza but that it is “facing Benjamin Netanyahu, one of the most restrained prime ministers in the State of Israel’s history when it comes to using military force.”

Barnea writes further:

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, the IDF echelon and the majority of ministers in the cabinet stood behind him until Monday. The flood of rockets from Gaza on Monday evening made this restraint increasingly difficult. …

The restraint exercised by the current cabinet is really exceptional: It’s unusual both compared to right-wing governments and compared to left-wing governments.

Despite its arsenal, Barnea writes, Netanyahu offered Hamas “calm for calm,” and would have held back from further escalations if Hamas had stopped firing on Israel’s south.

This is consistent with a report  by Amos Harel of Haaretz that Israel had sent messages to Hamas offering the terror organization a chance to “enforce its control over” the terrorists firing rockets into Israel.

Another columnist at Yedioth, Ron Ben Yishai, made similar observations about the dynamic, writing that “Hamas has in recent days come to the conclusion that it actually wants a broader conflict,” despite the fact that “[t]he cabinet has displayed prolonged restraint in the face of the rocket fire.”

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