Tuesday, October 21, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

AP Analysis: Mideast crisis a strategic stalemate

By
From page A1 | July 14, 2014 |

By Dan Perry

If the Israel-Hamas fighting feels like a rerun, that’s because it is.

This is the third round of Hamas rockets and Israel airstrikes since the Islamic militant group seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. And issues each time seem much the same: How can Hamas be compelled to stop firing rockets? Does Israel really have the will to reconquer a Hamas-ruled Gaza and oust the militants? Can the world tolerate Israel reacting with far deadlier force than the rockets themselves, as evidenced in the hugely lopsided casualty count that each time appears anew?

This round of violence came after peace talks collapsed, Israel tried to scuttle a Palestinian unity government and violence ratcheted up. With the Gazans now suffering more, one might expect internal pressure on Hamas to end the rocket fire, which would likely bring the airstrikes to a stop. But in a region where honor is key, and with the two sides not talking, outside mediation is badly needed for a mutually face-saving cease-fire.

In a strategic stalemate where neither side seems able to accept or defeat the other, here are some key issues at play:

FOR ISRAEL, IT’S ALL ABOUT THE ROCKETS

The Israeli point of view is that Hamas has grown accustomed to firing rockets and no country would tolerate such attacks. Doing nothing is not an option, and pounding Hamas hard enough seems to eventually win some quiet. It views civilian deaths in airstrikes as regrettable but blames Hamas for locating launchers and weapons at civilian sites. Israel’s makes efforts to minimize “collateral damage,” like warning calls to residents and preceding big attacks on buildings with smaller bombs, a practice dubbed “roof-knocking.” Beyond this, Israelis see Hamas as a ruthless mortal enemy that cannot be accommodated and, due to its radical Islamic tenets, can barely be reasoned with.

Palestinians cast a wider net. For them the very situation in Gaza is unacceptable: since the Hamas takeover Israel has blockaded it by land from the north and the east, and by sea from the west, preventing air travel as well. Egypt completes the siege by keeping a tight leash on its border with Gaza to the south. The strip’s 1.7 million people are crammed into low-rise shanty towns in a territory no more than 20 miles long and just a few miles wide. And even though Israel pulled out all soldiers and settlers in 2005, claiming this ended its occupation, Gazans depend on the Jewish state for electricity, water, communication networks and even the currency.

For many Palestinians, even those who do not support Hamas, non-conventional means like rocket fire against their perceived tormentors are an acceptable response. At least, some reason, the world will take notice. Some 20 years of peace talks failed to yield an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, and with the collapse two months ago of the latest round led by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, some fear the occupation of the West Bank may be permanent. Coupled with the dire situation in Gaza, the other part of the would-be Palestinian state, it is a situation that breeds despondency and despair.

RARE CONSENSUS FOR NETANYAHU

Israel is a society so divided that normally it’s hard to describe the Israeli point of view – but not so when it comes to Hamas and its rockets. That’s a rare opportunity for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Many Israelis dislike his policies toward the Palestinians in general, and some truly abhor the Jewish settlement of the West Bank which Netanyahu continues to promote. But the vast majority of Israelis distrust and despise Hamas – perpetrators of countless suicide bombings targeting civilians and plainly aimed, over the years, at derailing peace efforts by more moderate Palestinians. For Netanyahu, each round with Hamas offers him a genuine popularity that’s otherwise elusive.

HAMAS HAS FEW ALLIES

Arab politicians will heap condemnation on Israel but few genuinely shed tears for Hamas. The Palestinian group is the local chapter of a wider political Islam that in the wake of the Arab Spring is under siege in much of the region, firstly in Egypt but also in much of the Gulf and beyond. Even one-time ally Iran has backed away, funding sources have dried up, and the West largely views it as a terrorist group. The Palestinian Authority recently set up a joint government with Hamas, but its animosity with the secular Fatah group of President Mahmoud Abbas runs deep. Hamas also has not accepted the conditions set by the world community to become a legitimate player: recognize Israel, abide by past agreements and renounce violence.

DISPROPORTIONATE CASUALTIES

In the battle for global public opinion, Israel may be a victim of its own success in preventing domestic casualties. Its Iron Dome missile defense system has shot down incoming Hamas rockets, leaving many in Tel Aviv with the conflicting sensation of fear and the desire to post videos of the interceptions online. No Israelis have been killed in the past week, while more than 160 Gazans have died, many of them civilians. Similar ratios were posted during the last round, in late 2012, and also during the largest mini-war, that began in late December 2008. That buys Netanyahu time with domestic opinion – but international pressure can soon be expected for Israel to find a way to stop. And in the end Hamas may get renewed relevance and even some of its prisoners released.

Many believe Hamas is therefore not entirely averse to provoking Israel into its attacks. Public opinion matters somewhat less in the strip, which is hardly a democracy, than in Israel. And it is hard to see a scenario in which the populace rises up and topples the militants: Gaza is small enough to control and the alternatives have essentially been stamped out.

ISRAEL PREFERS TO RULE THE SKIES

Israel could probably change the game quickly by invading Gaza and rooting out its Hamas rulers, and Sunday already saw a small version of it with a first land skirmish inside the strip. But a true invasion would probably be a bloody affair and Israel has little stomach for great numbers of casualties. If it does go that route, a ground incursion likely would repeat the strategy of 2008-9, in which there was some ground fighting but the heart of Gaza City was not retaken and the Hamas leadership essentially left intact. And from the perspective of the longer term, Israel has no desire to again occupy the strip, as it did from 1967 to 2005. That leaves Israel with few attractive choices, which might explain why Hamas continues to fire the rockets: to poke Israel in the eye, and live to tell the tale.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Crime key topic again at Fairfield candidates night

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A5, 18 Comments | Gallery

 
 
Dixon corn maze breaks own world record

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A5 | Gallery

PAL center seeks volunteers

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Police Department hosts employee recognition event

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A5

.

US / World

Police say they might have spotted ambush suspect

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta dies at 82

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Yosemite proposes raising entrance, camping fees

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 2 Comments

 
CDC releases revised Ebola gear guidelines

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Clinton: Midterm elections should motivate women

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Surfer fends off shark attack with fist, board

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

WWII airman to be buried in Oakland

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 1 Comment

 
Brown: California needs long-term vision on water

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 4 Comments

Colorado proposes edible pot ban, then retreats

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 2 Comments

 
Submarine hunt sends Cold War chill across Baltic

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Oscar Pistorius to finally learn his sentence

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Youths, tech workers duel over San Francisco field

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Suspect in Va. abduction charged in DC area rape

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Warming Earth heading for hottest year on record

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 1 Comment

Lacking a plan, Abbas opts for rhetoric

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Police: Indiana suspect hints at more killings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Turkey says it helps Kurdish fighters enter Syria

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Nigeria declared Ebola-free; ‘spectacular success’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Urgent-care clinics ill-equipped to treat Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
British royal couples’ 2nd child due in April

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
.

Opinion

Spering kept youth league going

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 5 Comments

 
Day, Blankenchip good for respective cities

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

‘Misleading’ mailer sent to residents

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: Oct. 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page:

 
.

Entertainment

Yearwood, Santana to perform at World Series

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Standing ovation at Met Opera despite protest

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

Still the Same: Bob Seger launching tour, album

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

 
San Francisco radio stations ban hit song ‘Royals’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Pitbull to host American Music Awards on Nov. 23

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ actor arrested in Idaho

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

NBC’s Snyderman faces credibility issues

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

 
Not so fast cordcutters – cable’s not going anywhere

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5 | Gallery

TVGrid Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
.

Sports

Local Report: Armijo boys soccer team falls to Vintage

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
Steelers rally past stunned Texans 30-23

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Bumgarner against Shields in World Series opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Raiders plagued by 3rd-down defensive woes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Champion drag racer Raymond Beadle dies at 70

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Stiviano lawsuit against Shelly Sterling dismissed

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

With TD mark in bag, Manning can set more records

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
49ers lose center Daniel Kilgore, needs surgery

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Giants-Royals: A capsule look at World Series

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Belichick, Brady praise Manning on TD record

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Penn State board to meet on disputed Freeh Report

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
McIlroy to skip 2 events to focus on lawsuit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Column: Keselowski marches to his own beat

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Wanted: Cities interested in hosting 2024 Olympics

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Giants rely on core of 4 relievers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Royals, fans bond over improbable postseason run

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Voynov suspended on domestic violence suspicion

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
.

Business

Facebook sues law firms, claims fraud

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Apple reports record 39.3 million iPhone sales

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5, 1 Comment

US regulator: Fannie, Freddie in deal with banks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Sears plans to raise more cash via rights offering

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Survey: Pay raises rarer despite strong US hiring

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5 | Gallery

 
US agency warns car owners to get air bags fixed

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Pickles Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Bridge Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Sudoku Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Baby Blues Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sally Forth Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Wizard of Id Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Dilbert Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
B.C. Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Crossword Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Frank and Ernest Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Blondie Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Word Sleuth Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Garfield Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baldo Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Rose is Rose Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

For Better or Worse Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Zits Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Peanuts Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Cryptoquote Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Beetle Bailey Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6