Israeli Dilemmas vis-?-vis Hamas

The statement that a military operation is inevitable despite the fact that it is not seen as a long term solution is indicative of the tension and dilemmas that Hamas control of Gaza poses to Israeli decision makers.
Last week, against the backdrop of continued Kassam rocket fire and weapons smuggling into Gaza, Defense Minister Ehud Barak stated that "every day that passes brings us closer to a broad operation in Gaza."

The statement that a military operation is inevitable despite the fact that it is not seen as a long term solution is indicative of the tension and dilemmas that Hamas control of Gaza poses to Israeli decision makers:

  1. Stronger Hamas or Continuation of Kassams? Current measures such as air strikes and economic boycott are not significantly reducing the firing of Kassam rockets. A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas meanwhile, may achieve a temporary halt to rocket fire, but would also allow Hamas to strengthen towards a new round of violence.

  2. Weapons Smuggling and Clash of Logics: Weapons smuggling from Egypt creates a tension between two logics in Israel's national security concept. While military logic dictates Israeli control over areas along the border between Gaza and Egypt, political logic demands Israel maintain its diplomatic gains and de-facto 'End of Responsibility' from Gaza which derived from the Disengagement Plan (8/05). (See Military Logic May Undermine National Security).

  3. No ratification of agreement without Hamas, no significant agreement with it. Hamas has the ability to 'spoil' any agreement during the ratification stage due to its control over Gaza and its popularity in the Diaspora. The organization can thus hamper any agreement to which it is not a part.

    Hamas' opposes any agreement which explicitly recognizes Israel's right to exist or that declares an End of Conflict and Finality of Claims.

These dilemmas would be easier to solve if Israel possessed an organizing logic vis-à-vis Hamas and Gaza. While Israel's policy has so far been aimed at 'weakening' the Hamas government, its long term strategic interests remain undefined.

Sources

What is Israel's 'organizing logic' vis-à-vis Gaza? 10.31.07

Yaacov Katz, Jerusalem Post, 10/30/07; full article.