Important columns by former attorney general Michael Mukasey and Caroline Glick make the point that in Israel’s defensive war against Hamas, the main thing to focus on is not the missiles; it’s the tunnels. Perhaps more significantly, they demonstrate that the Obama administration, in its mulish appeasement of the Muslim Brotherhood-Sunni supremacist axis that even Islamic governments (indeed, even the Saudis) are shunning, is subverting a golden opportunity to achieve decisive victory over Hamas – the necessary precondition if there is ever to be a stable Israeli-Palestinian settlement.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Judge Mukasey explains that Hamas’s strategic plan for jihad against Israel hinges on the large and sophisticated network of tunnels into Israel that the terror organization built while ruling Gaza during the years since Israel’s 2005 evacuation. While much attention has been drawn to “Iron Dome,” the Israeli air defense system that has responded to Hamas rocket-fire, the trigger for the Israeli ground offensive was more likely the challenge posed by the tunnel network. That challenge, Judge Mukasey writes, “became obvious on Saturday when eight Palestinian fighters wearing Israeli military uniforms emerged from a tunnel 300 yards inside Israel and killed two Israeli soldiers in a firefight.” He elaborates:
The tunnel network gave [Hamas] the ability to launch a coordinated attack within Israel like the 2008 Islamist rampage in Mumbai that killed 164 people. Recall that in 2011 Israel released more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, more than 200 of whom were under a life sentence for planning and perpetrating terror attacks. They were exchanged for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who had been taken hostage in a cross-border raid by Hamas. Imagine the leverage that Hamas could have achieved by sneaking fighters through the tunnels and taking hostages throughout Israel; the terrorists intercepted Saturday night were carrying tranquilizers and handcuffs.
Caroline Glick strikes the same note in her latest column:
We have known for years that tunnels were a central component of Hamas’s logistical infrastructure. What began as the primary means of smuggling weapons, trainers and other war material from Hamas’s sponsors abroad developed rapidly into a strategic tool of offensive warfare against Israel.
As we have seen from the heavily armed Hamas commando squads that have infiltrated into Israel from tunnels since the start of the current round of warfare, the first goal of these offensive tunnels is to deploy terrorists into Israel to massacre Israelis. But the tunnels facilitate other terror missions as well. Israel has found tunnels with shafts rigged with bombs located directly under Israeli kindergartens. If the bombs had gone off, the buildings above would have been destroyed, taking the children down with them.
Other exposed shafts showed Hamas’s continued intense interest in hostage taking. In 2006 the terrorists who kidnapped Cpl. Gilad Schalit entered Israel and returned to Gaza through such a tunnel. Today the presence of sedatives and multiple sets of handcuffs for neutralizing hostages found in tunnel after tunnel indicate that Hamas intends to abduct several Israelis at once and spirit them back to Gaza.
Hamas’s rapid advances in both tunnel and missile technology are deeply worrisome. At a minimum, they indicate that if it is allowed to end the current round of fighting as a coherent, relatively well-armed terrorist army, Hamas will be able to rapidly rebuild and expand its capabilities. As a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas is not a stand-alone terror group. It is part of a much larger web of Islamic jihadist terror groups including al-Qaida and its affiliates as well as the Shi’ite Hezbollah.
But there is a big positive in the equation. As part of the Brotherhood and the global jihad, Hamas is also more isolated than it has ever been. As those of us opposed to U.S. intervention in Syria have contended, by not interrupting our enemies while they were squaring off against each other, we’d see their relations rupture. That is exactly what has happened.
As Judge Mukasey observes, Iran, Syria and Hezbollah – respectively, Hamas’s former principal patron, safe-haven, and jihadist ally – turned on Hamas once it threw its lot in with the Syrian regime’s enemies: the Muslim Brotherhood-Sunni supremacist axis of Morsi’s Egypt, Erdogan’s Turkey, and Qatar (headquarters of Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi). Hamas’s gamble came up snake-eyes when the Brotherhood was ousted in Egypt. And a bonus: so badly had the Brotherhood soured relations with its former Gulf patrons in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that these nervous Sunni regimes not only firmly back the new Egyptian government but are quietly pulling for Israel to quell Hamas.
So for allies, Hamas is down to Erdogan’s sharia state, whose ties to the Brotherhood and violent jihadists I outlined in Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy; and Qatar, which, besides Hamas, backs the al-Qaeda offshoots ISIS and al-Nusra, among others.
Meaning that, right now, there is a tremendous opportunity to demolish Hamas. Doing so is the only chance of breaking the Palestinian jihadist will, paving the way for the three obvious Palestinian concessions needed for peace: accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, renounce terrorism (or “resistance”), and abandon the nonsensical “right of return” demand. If you really want a two-state solution, there is only one way to get it: the jihad has to be utterly defeated. So let Israel win—and why do we keep having to remind everyone that this just means siding with our actual ally, the only real democracy in the region?—and begin negotiations from that clean slate. The worst thing that could happen right now is a ceasefire that enables Hamas to regroup before Israel has destroyed what we now know is its prodigious terrorist arsenal and infrastructure.
But when it comes to American relations with our Israeli allies and our Islamic-supremacist enemies, you can always rely on Obama to do the wrong thing. Caroline Glick picks up the story:
Israel’s newfound Muslim allies have not been pushing for a cease-fire. In contrast, the Obama administration is insisting on concluding a cease-fire immediately.
As Israel has uncovered the scope of Hamas’s infrastructure of murder and terror, the US has acted with the UN, Turkey and Qatar to pressure Israel (and Egypt) to agree to a cease-fire and so end IDF operations against Hamas before the mission is completed.
To advance this goal, US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo on Monday night with an aggressive plan to force on Israel a cease-fire Hamas and its state sponsors will accept. As former ambassador to the US Michael Oren told the media, it is clear that neither Israel nor Egypt invited Kerry to come over. Their avoidance of Kerry signals clearly that the US’s two most important allies in the Middle East do not trust US President Barack Obama’s intentions.
And their distrust is entirely reasonable. The State Department has openly applauded Turkey and Qatar for their involvement in attempts to achieve a cease-fire. Last week Israeli officials alleged that the US was responsible for Hamas’s rejection of the Egyptian cease-fire proposal. By attempting to coerce Egypt to accept Qatar and Turkey as its partners in mediation, Obama signaled to Hamas’s leaders that they should hold out for a better deal.
America’s willful blindness to Turkish and Qatari treachery is staggering. As I contended in Spring Fever, because Turkey is a formally a NATO ally, our government will not confront the fact that it is a major state sponsor of our terrorist enemies, to say nothing of Erdogan’s shift of a once staunchly pro-Western, pro-Israeli state into a stifling, corrupt capital of anti-American, anti-Semitic, Islamic supremacism. As for Qatar, Ms. Glick relates that as the regime becomes ever cozier with the U.S. Defense Department (hosting three American bases) and U.S. defense contractors (an $11.4 billion arms agreement signed this year), the Obama administration looks the other way while:
Qatar is the major bankroller of ISIS and al Nusra in Syria and Iraq. It gives $50 million a month to jihadists in Libya. It gives Hamas $100m. in annual aid. And in the past two years Doha has provided Hamas with an additional $620m. dollars, including $250m. it transferred to Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal’s personal bank account, and $350m. in military aid to Hamas, transferred after the Egyptian military forced the Muslim Brotherhood government from power last July. Add to that the $100m. per year that Qatar pours into Al Jazeera’s satellite network – which has dedicated itself to undermining pro-Western Arab regimes while popularizing the likes of al-Qaida and Hamas, and Qatar is the largest financier of international jihad in the world.
Undermining America’s allies and empowering America’s enemies: the Obama legacy.