Israel

Day 51 – Operation Protective Edge Over?

Today is the fifty-first day of Operation Protective Edge

In a speech today, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Operation Protective Edge a success. Herb Keinon reports:

“I can say that Hamas was indeed hit hard,” Netanyahu said of the first goal. As for the second, he was more circumspect.

“Will we get long term calm?” he asked. “I think it is too early to tell. But I can say that the blows to Hamas, and our ability to keep them from rearming by supervising the borders increases the chances that this will be achieved.” …

Netanyahu ticked of what he said were the country’s military achievements of the 50-day operation: destroying Hamas’ terror attack tunnels; killing some 1,000 terrorists, including top commanders; destroying thousands of rockets, rocket launchers, arms depots, and weapon manufacturing facilities; knocking out “hundreds” of command centers; and preventing Hamas attacks on Israel from the land sea and air.

Additionally, Netanyahu pointed out that Hamas achieved none of its goals: “They demanded a sea port and did not achieve this; they demanded an airport and did not achieve this; they demanded the release of prisoners placed back under arrest following the murder of the three Israeli boys; they demanded that Quarter mediate, and didn’t get it; they demanded Turkish mediation, and didn’t get.”

The Tower today covered reports of a growing trend of Gazans traveling eastward to join the jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq. Two months ago, “Black ISIS flags billowed above the heads of mourners during a funeral” for two members of Hamas, “mark[ing] the first open display of support for ISIS within the Hamas dominated enclave.”

There are reports that the al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front has “captured the Syrian side of the Quneitra border crossing with Israel.” Israel has warned farmers to stay away from the Syrian border as clashes between the Nusra Front and moderate rebel forces are ongoing.

Prisoners captured by Israel during Operation Protective Edge have confirmed that Hamas uses human shields by operating out of civilian buildings, including mosques. In one case, “Muhammad Ramadan from Khan Yunis said his anti-tank weapons training took place in a hall located under the Alshafi mosque in Khan Yunis.” According to Ramadan, the hall also served as “an Izzadin Al-Kassam Brigades training and instruction facility.”

At a State Department briefing yesterday, spokeswoman Jen Psaki denied that the administration would cooperate with the Assad regime in order to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In Psai’s words, “And if it – when it comes to the interests of the American people, the interests of the United States, we’re not going to ask for permission from the Syrian regime.”

Although the latest ceasefire has not yet been violated by Hamas, Hamas is still expressing its intent to prepare for “the coming devastating battle of liberation” against Israel. Veteran Arab affairs reporter Ehud Ya’ari wrote that despite its bluster, Hamas has little to show for the devastation it caused: ” They’ll see the slim chances that they’ll achieve their (demands of) crossings, sea port, airport, etc in the round of talks that will start in Cairo – they will say to themselves the it’s the same ceasefire they could have obtained a month ago.”

Emily Landau, a disarmament expert at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), wrote today that the West is in danger of “a bad nuclear deal” with Iran. One problem Landau points to is the negotiating parties’ failure to clarify Iran’s past weaponization programs. This was underscored by Iran’s recent refusal to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency access to the Parchin military site, where weaponization research is believed to have been conducted.

[Photo: Israel Defense Forces / Flickr ]