From the moment a new cease-fire between Hamas and Israel began (at 7 pm Israel time, August 26, 2014), Hamas has been telling the world it ‘won’ this latest round of the Arab-Israel conflict (“Hamas claims ‘victory’ as Gaza truce agreed with Israel”, Times of India, Aug 26, 2014). This is a trademark of Hamas: it starts a war it cannot win, gets pulverized, then declares victory.
In this latest war with Israel, Hamas has accomplished little. It killed few Jews (thank G-d), destroyed little Jewish property and conquered none of Israel’s land.
The cost for these meagre accomplishments was horrific: more than 2,000 Gazans were killed. Dozens of schools, clinics, mosques and public buildings were destroyed. More than 17,000 Gazan homes were destroyed or severely damaged. Another 37,000 homes were damaged in some way. More than 400,000 Gazans have been internally displaced. Hundreds of businesses were ruined.
Worst of all, Hamas’ war will have a devastating impact on Gaza’s tiny 6 billion USD economy. Even before the fighting ended, total cost estimates for damage and economic losses ranged between 5 and 6 billion USD. Gaza has never experienced such a loss.
This wasn’t victory. It was abject defeat.
According to traditional cost-benefit calculations for the cost of a war, this insane adventure looks like a complete disaster for Gaza. Hamas appears to have achieved nothing for the devastation it has created.
Nevertheless, Hamas might be right. It might indeed have ‘won’.
Victory for Hamas is not measured the way the West measures it. Victory for Hamas doesn’t mean land conquered or freedom achieved or enemy rebuffed.
Hamas has a different definition for victory: did this war promote the Muslim effort to destroy Israel?
That’s the yard-stick. It’s the only yard-stick.
Hamas has never been shy about its purpose. It has always been honest about its desire to destroy Israel. It states in its Charter that it rejects all political compromise with Israel. That Charter declares, there is only one solution for the ‘Palestinian problem’: Jihad, or holy war against the Jew.
Hamas’ sole aim is to drive the Jews out of Israel. Everything Hamas does is measured by this standard.
Therefore, according to this standard, Hamas may have achieved a distinctive victory in this 2014 war. It made Jews run.
Put another way, it has done precisely what it has stated it wants to do. It has driven Jews from their homes. True, much of this success is only temporary. Most Israelis who fled will return once the rockets stop.
But the Hamas standard does not distinguish between temporary or permanent. In this war, thousands of Jews in Israel’s south have fled their homes to seek safer places for themselves and their children. That means that, with this fifty-day war, Hamas has made parts of southern Israel temporarily Jew-free.
For this war, both the Times of Israel (“2 Israelis killed in mortar attack, just before truce takes effect”, August 26, 2014) and the Associated Press (“Gaza attacks trigger Israeli exodus from border”, August 25, 2014) have reported that 70 per cent of some 40,000 Israelis who live along the Gaza border have fled their homes during July-August 2014. That means that 28,000 Jews had been driven from their homes.
No other Muslim group has done that. Hamas’ accomplishment is extraordinary.
Hamas has won on another level. Late in the fighting (in August), Hamas found for the very first time the secret to future success—a tactic that drives Jews from their homes. That tactic is simple: limit your rocket-fire to a closed triangle. That triangle runs app north up the coast from Gaza to Ashdod, then Southeast from Ashdod to Beersheva, then due West from Beersheva back to Gaza.
Keep your rocket-fire concentrated inside that triangle. Pound that triangle mercilessly. Fire 120 rockets a day for at least 50 days. Turn the triangle into a triangle of death.
In the next round of fighting with Israel, Gaza will suffer more than it has suffered now. But that damage will be meaningless. More dead Gazans will be meaningless.
The dead will be called martyrs. They will be honoured. Then, nations of the world will donate the billions Gaza will need to restock, reload and rebuild its war machine.
The only thing that counts is this: Hamas made Jews flee. Now, the world can see how Jihad (holy war) overpowers the mighty Jew.
Hamas learned a lot from this war. It learned a new Muslim geometry for victory: the triangle of death.
There is a whisper in Israel about that triangle. The whisper says, Hamas created it using rocket launchers embedded next to Gazan civilians. The whisper says, the IDF knew about those launchers—but did little about them because it was concerned about killing Gazan civilians ("Is This Why 4-Year-Old Daniel Tragerman Was Murdered?", Arutz Sheva, August 27, 2014).
Do you understand Hamas’ victory? Do you understand the whisper?