Friday, July 25, 2014

Behind the Headlines: Hamas’ Rockets and Tunnels

Hamas Tunnel
Tuesday’s rocket attack on an area near Israel’s only international airport — the success of which marks the first serious failure of Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile shield — has thrown Israel off-kilter for the first time since the war began. Carriers panicked by the shootdown of the Malaysia Airlines jet over Ukraine began canceling flights to Israel left and right even before the Federal Aviation Administration grounded all US-Israeli plane travel for 24 hours. Any effort to restrict travel has an especially powerful resonance in Israel.

--John Podhoretz, New York Post  

The FAA's ban on U.S. flights to and from Israel's main airport for a second day marks another blow to that country's economy and a success for Hamas militants, experts said Wednesday.Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, described the missile landing near the airport as one victory in the ongoing war between Hamas and Israel in Gaza. "The resistance success in stopping the air traffic and isolating Israel from the world is a great victory for the resistance," Barhoum told Al-Aqsa TV.

--Josh Levs, Ben Brumfield and Dana Ford, CNN  

Hamas . . . is elated by its success in temporarily but significantly hampering operations at Ben Gurion Airport (arguably the most significant single Palestininan tactical accomplishment since the 1948 War). . . People don’t travel much across Israel’s land frontiers; the airport is Israel’s vital link with the rest of the world. Hamas and . . . Israel’s enemies now think they can imagine a new strategy to drive the Jewish state to its knees by cutting it off from the outside world. . . (The biggest political mistake of the war so far? The American officials who banned U.S. flights from using the airport made a cease fire much harder to obtain.)

--Walter Russell Mead, American Interest

Hamas had it right. When rockets landed close enough to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport, they threatened to remove Israel’s lifeline to civilization. The extension of the FAA ban struck some as evidence the Obama administration was tipping the scales against Israel in its fight with Hamas, but the FAA has since lifted the ban, and it now looks more like uncoordinated U.S. stupidity.

Nevertheless, indirectly taking on the anti-“dead white men” Obama foreign policy we discussed earlier, American-born Israeli commentator Caroline Glick asserts the Obama administration is siding with Hamas against Israel by pressing for a cease fire:
As a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas is not a stand-alone terror group. It is part of a much larger web of Islamic jihadist terror groups including al-Qaida and its affiliates as well as the Shi’ite Hezbollah. Like Hamas, all of these threaten several major Sunni Arab states. Hamas’s most outspoken state sponsors are Qatar and Turkey.
Glick adds that
Qatar is Hamas’s biggest and most important financier, a role it plays as well for ISIS, al Nusra, the Muslim Brotherhood and various jihadist groups in Libya. Turkey for its part is aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood.
On the other side, Glick writes, the threat Hamas and its allies pose to the survivability of the Egyptian, Saudi Arabian, and the United Arab Emirates regimes accounts for their current, “unprecedented” support of Israel’s efforts to defeat Hamas. These states aren’t pushing for a cease-fire. Given this line-up, it would seem surprising that
the Obama administration is insisting on concluding a cease-fire immediately. As Israel has uncovered the scope of Hamas’s infrastructure of murder and terror, the US has acted with the UN, Turkey and Qatar to pressure Israel (and Egypt) to agree to a cease-fire and so end [Israeli military] operations against Hamas before the mission is completed. . . US Secretary of State John Kerry [flew to the Middle East] with an aggressive plan to force on Israel a cease-fire Hamas and its state sponsors will accept. [The] Israel [and] Egypt . . . avoidance of Kerry signals clearly that the US’s two most important allies in the Middle East do not trust US President Barack Obama’s intentions.
Comment: It’s not the airport, it’s the tunnels. Does the diffusion of power we see with the Internet have its warfare equivalent not only in hand-held rockets and home-made IEDs, but also in tunnels? Can Hamas open up new tunnels as fast as an Israel pulled back behind its borders finds and destroys old ones? Tunnels prolonged the Civil War at Petersburg and, of course, World War I lasted far longer because of tunnels.

 Israel’s friends are asking a related question, “Why doesn’t (tunnel-riddled) Gaza have bomb shelters?” Why indeed.

No comments: