Israel and Gaza: Edging Closer to War
IF THE latest round of violence between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamists who run Gaza, were to end this weekend, everyone involved—except for the families of the score or more people who have been killed or maimed in the destruction—could claim to have come out ahead. But it is possible that the bombing and rocketing will drag on into next week, with the threat growing of a full-scale ground assault by Israel and the inevitable carnage and destruction that that would entail.
For Israel and Hamas, the key question for each is, did it win in the eyes of our public opinion? For Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, with a general election looming on January 22nd, that question is particularly acute. The assassination on November 14th of Ahmad Jabari, the military commander of the Hamas, was widely welcomed by Israelis. The air force’s subsequent elimination of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of long-range Iranian-made Fajr missiles stockpiled by Hamas and Gaza’s more extreme group, Islamic Jihad, was a feat of intelligence and execution that drew kudos from across the Israeli political spectrum. (Mr Netanyahu can notch up to his credit, too, the news that his would-be rival, Ehud Olmert, postponed his planned announcement on November 15th that he would stand against the prime minister in the upcoming election.)