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Belmont Club

Bricks and mortar

December 31st, 2008 - 12:58 am

This video, showing an IDF strike on Hamas headquarters in Gaza, was hosted here after it was pulled from YouTube.

It shows a succession of munitions hitting a compound, destroying each building in turn. The tactical aim is obvious: to destroy Hamas’ infrastructure. But the long range goal of these attacks is less self-evident. The human infrastructure of Hamas must be the real center of gravity and since those assets have gone to ground after the first strikes; either literally or by distributing themselves among the population, then what is the sense of further air attacks. Do they presage ground action? Are they simply an attempt to “degrade” Hamas’ capability?

The strategic goal of any counter-terror campaign is to destroy the enemy’s legitimacy among the people they claim to represent. The attacks on Hamas, while aimed at physically weakening it, are also aimed at undermining them vis-a-vis their internal enemies. The attack on Hamas headquarters then, is an act of humiliation as much as a physical targeting effort. It’s an attempt to publicly demonstrate their powerlessness before the people of Gaza.

But it’s value over the long term can only be realized if the opposition to Hamas can seize the opportunity to improve ther own political position. Only the Palestinian people can make peace with Israel and overthrow their terrorist overlords. But to attempt that is fraught with danger. After the bombing campaign is over and Israel’s forces go back to their watching game Hamas will attempt to re-assert its control. It hardly seems possible to hope. But tomorrow is another day.

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