A Washington Post editorial published today, entitled Hamas is Playing Dangerous Games with the Lives of Gazans, accused Hamas of rejecting yesterday’s ceasefire proposal in order to invite world pressure on Israel to meet Hamas’ demands.
Why would Hamas insist on continuing the fight when it is faring so poorly? The only plausible answer is stomach-turning: The Islamic movement calculates that it can win the concessions it has yet to obtain from Israel and Egypt not by striking Israel but by perpetuating the killing of its own people in Israeli counterattacks. More than 200 people, including a number of children, have already died in Gaza; Hamas probably calculates that more deaths will prompt Western governments to pressure Israel to grant Hamas’s demands.
So far, the tactic is not working. Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Tuesday condemned Hamas for rejecting the cease-fire and “us[ing] the innocent lives of civilians . . . as shields.” But Hamas’s commanders, who have burrowed into underground bunkers, appear to be doubling down. They are urging civilians who have left their homes to return, including some 15,000 who evacuated the northern part of Gaza in response to Israeli warnings. The cease-fire proposal was answered with a new barrage of missiles aimed at central Israel.
The Post’s editorial opinion shows something of a reversal from last month, when its editors called for support for the Hamas-supported Palestinian unity government, offering the hopeful rationale that the “unity movement offers at least the possibility of change and renovation.”
Today’s editorial, alongside its condemnation of Hamas, credits Israel with using “sophisticated technology, including targeted text messages and dummy warning missiles to minimize civilian casualties.”
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