#Israel tells #Hamas: You can keep your rockets

In the tweet embedded below, the number of casualties is probably exaggerated, but the purpose of the photograph is obvious: to show that Hamas, just like Israel, has soldiers. Obviously they aren’t as well equipped as the IDF and they use different tactics, but in ways that the media generally prefers to ignore, there are many of the elements of conventional warfare taking place in Gaza — soldiers fighting soldiers.

This is also asymmetric warfare — an expression that has acquired some Orwellian undertones. The asymmetry is often treated as conferring advantages on the weaker side, for instance by saying that they merely have to survive to win.

There is, however, a much more traditional and unambiguous way of characterizing asymmetric warfare: David and Golliath.

Right and might are on opposite sides.

Many Israelis express frustration with the fact that so many people outside the conflict sympathize with the Palestinians and suggest that a lack of sympathy for Israel may be a symptom of antisemitism.

In reality, all it generally reflects is a pervasive humanitarian inclination: to side with and empathize with the underdog.

We each recognize our own vulnerability to malicious attacks and hope that there is such a thing as common humanity: that people can be willing to help each other on no other basis than we recognize fellow human beings.

To their consternation, Eli Lake and Josh Rogin report: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his military will not stop until it dismantles a labyrinth of tunnels often burrowed under private homes and even beneath Gaza’s mosques. But Netanyahu has not called for destroying the organization that built those tunnels: Hamas — and he won’t, multiple Israeli officials told The Daily Beast. Which raises the question: Why are Israeli forces in Gaza — at the cost of more than 1,300 lives and a rising tide of global condemnation — in the first place?

“You have to think through what comes next,” a senior Israeli official said this month when asked why Israel was not pursuing regime change against Hamas. “You don’t want to actually administer Gaza and you don’t want someone worse taking over.”

Another senior Israeli official said that Jerusalem’s military did not even seek to take out the entire stockpile of Hamas rockets. Instead, he said, this latest round of fighting was aimed at creating deterrence and destroying the tunnels. More recently, Israeli officials have said they also seek to demilitarize Hamas.

A third official added Israel would accept leaving Hamas for now with its current store of missiles, if the Egyptian government were to agree to more stringently monitor goods passing over its border with Gaza. Under this plan, Cairo would police how much concrete and iron comes into the country to keep Hamas from rebuilding the labyrinth of tunnels that pass under the Israeli and Egyptian borders, allowing them to smuggle in both more tunnel building material — and the rockets (or machine tools to make them) that have rained down on Israeli cities.

The fact that Gazans have become so proficient at tunneling is not the result of having teams of over-sized rodents. It is the result of the political policies of the Israeli and Egyptian governments. The flow of goods into and out of Gaza can be just as easily managed as it is in any other part of the world where there are border crossings. That’s the function of border crossings.

Israel did not put Gaza under siege for the sake of Israel’s national security. The siege was never designed to prevent the flow of weapons. The purpose of the siege is to punish and apply pressure on the whole population. It is a tool of psychological warfare.

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