Jake Wallis Simons Jake Wallis Simons

How Israel won the war

(Photo: Getty)

Golda Meir, Israel’s first female Prime Minister, once said that when forced to choose between being ‘dead and pitied’ or ‘alive with a bad image’, her country would opt for the latter. Now that Israel and the Gaza militants have agreed a ceasefire after 11 days of fighting, these words ring truer than ever.

Both sides will now strive to present a ‘victory picture’ to their peoples and to the world. But while Jerusalem may have lost the propaganda war – anti-Israel feeling and antisemitism is surging both in Europe and the United States – it emerges from this conflict the strongest, its security boosted by a hugely degraded enemy.

Hamas’ leaders had not reckoned on such a devastating response from Jerusalem

There is some debate over whether Hamas’ decision to go to war was taken by Yahya Sinwar, the group’s leader in Gaza, or the head of its military wing, Mohammed Daif. Either way, the strategic calculation was clear. Mahmoud Abbas, the beleaguered, 85-year-old leader of the Ramallah administration and Hamas’ main factional rival, had pulled the plug on his own elections, creating deep resentment among ordinary Palestinians. Rioting was ripping through Jerusalem, culminating with unprecedented violence inside the al-Aqsa mosque, fuelling an intense appetite for revenge. These factors presented an opportunity for Hamas to position itself as the true figurehead of the Palestinian people by launching a major rocket barrage.

This objective, to some extent, was achieved. Yet the price was much higher than the terror group had anticipated. Hundreds of its home-made rockets reportedly fell into Gaza, killing Palestinian civilians, including children. And the organisation’s leaders had not reckoned on such a devastating response from Jerusalem.

Israel’s military achievements in the last 11 days outstripped those that came before in Gaza.

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