Israel was successful in its eight-day war with Hamas. The rulers of Gaza, by celebrating a false victory, are feeding delusions in their own minds and those of the people they govern. But the Israel Defence Forces’ accurate aerial bombardment devastated Hamas’s stock of missiles, and Iron Dome, Israel’s missile defence shield, was highly effective. Moreover, the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt has now invested some of its prestige in the truce. Yet Mohammed Morsi, the President, has now gone too far domestically, arrogating to himself new constitutional powers.
Thanks largely to Iron Dome, there was no need for a ground offensive into the Gaza Strip. That would have been particularly troublesome, not only for the safety of Israeli military personnel and the civilians of Gaza, but also because anti-Israel propagandists around the world would have accepted it as a gift. Fortunately, the events this month were not a re-enactment of the war with Hezbollah in 2006 and the previous conflict with Hamas in 2009.
The ceasefire agreement, which is virtually the same as in 2009, are far from lucid and, when it comes to the facilitation of “the movement of people and transfer of goods,” hardly likely to be fulfilled in the near future; there are too many problems with arms smuggling to treat Gaza’s borders and seacoast as places for normal, peaceful travel or commerce. The region – the world – will be lucky if there is not a similar eruption of violence in the next few years.
The United States and Egypt have done good service in bringing the warfare to an end, for the time being. American goodwill and strenuous effort were to be expected; the actions of Mr. Morsi and his colleagues were not easy to foresee. Though Mr. Morsi has been courteous, even warm, in diplomatic correspondence with President Shimon Peres, he bizarrely refuses to utter the name of the state of Israel. During the conflict, however, the Prime Minister of Turkey, the Crown Prince of Qatar and the Foreign Minister of Tunisia converged on Cairo to try to limit the damage, underlining the importance and responsibility of Egypt for the region’s relative peace – a sincere form of flattery. Mr. Morsi rose to the occasion – though it now seems to have gone to his head. He has now granted himself new constitutional powers.
Israel prevailed in this latest deadly episode, but this is not progress toward peace. That will happen only when both sides recognize the futility of recurrent war.