1. Hamas has called for Hizballah to get involved, and ISIS is showing signs that it wants to get involved — but so far neither has actually happened yet.
Hamas is taking a pounding from the Israel Defense Forces. Its tunnels are being discovered and destroyed. Its rockets are being shot down by Iron Dome before they can do much harm to Israeli civilians. Hamas knows that it cannot stand up to the IDF directly, and that it cannot face the IDF alone. The trajectory that this war is on ends with Hamas decimated, if Israel is allowed to finish the job this time.
So Hamas is calling for Hizballah to attack Israel from the north. Hizballah has problems of its own, chiefly the Syria civil war and the threat to its patron Assad in Damascus. So far, Hizballah has lobbed in a few rockets but has not done anything meaningful. If it did, though, Israel would face a two-front war. It could win, but a second front makes it more difficult for Israel to finish off Hamas as a fighting force, and it increases the chances of civilian casualties which the terrorists and their media allies will exploit against Israel.
ISIS, the radical caliphate that the Obama administration has allowed to fester in Iraq, has announced that it wants to join the fight in Gaza. But Jordan stands in the way. But Jordan is weak and has unrest of its own to worry about.
It’s not out of the question that ISIS could infiltrate in sufficient numbers to launch attacks and even open up an eastern front against Israel. The prospect of a three-front war is real. Israel has faced far worse odds before and won, but it’s better that Israel go ahead and destroy Hamas without delay, than to go for a cease-fire that gives its enemies time to consolidate and coordinate.
2. Most of the Arab states are staying out of the Gaza fight, tacitly siding with Israel. The New York Times reports that the current Arab leadership, wary after the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the wake of the Arab Spring, see Hamas as worse than Israel.
They’re right. Israel poses no threat to the Arab governments. The Muslim Brotherhood wants to overthrow all secular Arab governments and replace them with Islamist revolutionary regimes. Egypt got a taste of that and wants no part of it. So they’re siding with Israel. The Saudis, Jordan and the UAE are as well. The Islamic states are divided, then, with Hamas patrons Turkey, Iran and Qatar on one side and pretty much the rest of the major states on the other.
Israel has a massive opportunity here to destroy Hamas, an enemy of several Arab states, and then show that it’s a reliable partner against radicalism and the Muslim Brotherhood overall. Destroying Hamas could realign the Middle East, with Israel as the leader against radical Islam in background alliances with Arab governments who hate Israel, but hate the radicals a whole lot more.
3. Obama’s government just inked a weapons deal with Qatar, Hamas’ patron and ally. Obama’s U.S. government is not a reliable partner for Israel. The latest evidence of that, the $11 billion weapons deal that it just inked with Qatar.
Qatar is openly supporting Hamas in its war against Israel. The morality of the conflict could not be clearer — Hamas started the war, it puts its own people in the line of fire for propaganda purposes, it commits war crimes as a matter of routine, while Israel does everything it can to avoid civilian casualties on both sides and it determined to protect its own people.
The Obama administration could have used the weapons deal as leverage to get Qatar to back down from supporting Hamas. It chose not to do that.
Signals from Rep. Nancy Pelosi suggest that there are some within the Democratic Party, including its leadership and the president, who do not really believe that Israel should destroy Hamas, and even that Hamas still has a role to play after starting the current war. Other Democrats like Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York are taking more responsible hard lines against Hamas. But they seem to be losing the debate within the Democratic Party. There is no debate within the Republican Party. Support for Israel on the right is as strong and united as ever.
If the Pelosi wing wins the Democrats’ debate, Israel’s alliance with the U.S. becomes even more tenuous. The Israelis would be wise to finish the job as quickly as possible, to take Hamas out of the equation entirely.