Operation Protective Edge

Update – August 22, 2014

Phase I Overviews

David Horovitz offered what would have been a great summary of Operation Protective Edge’s historical significance…had the ceasefire held.

Update – August 22, 2014

Phase I Overviews

David Horovitz offered what would have been a great summary of Operation Protective Edge’s historical significance…had the ceasefire held.

In the Telegraph (UK), Alan Johnson provides a comprehensive catalogue of Hamas’ intimidation and manipulation of the media over the two months of the current conflict.

And in U.S. News and World Report, Oren Kessler digs deeper into the casualty figures provided by Hamas and generally repeated uncritically by the Western media.

UNRWA and the Palestinian Authority

A Jerusalem Post editorial outlines the biases of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East, while Alexander Joffe and Asaf Romirowsky argue in the New Republic that any post-conflict reconstruction money for Gaza should go through the Palestinian Authority (PA) rather than UNRWA.

Similarly, former U.S. National Security Advisors Sandy Berger and Stephen Hadley argue that any ceasefire must empower the PA rather than Hamas, although Jonathan Tobin argues in Commentary that the PA will still not be able to enforce its will against Hamas post-conflict (or that it would make much of a difference anyways).

Renewed Operations

On Wednesday Hamas fired rockets at the offshore gas platforms this year’s Generals and Admirals’ delegation visited via Israeli Navy Fast Patrol Boat; Simon Henderson offers preliminary analysis, suggesting that although it would take a small miracle for Hamas’ unguided rockets to hit the platforms, the mere threat may alter the conflict’s equation.

For the first time in the conflict, on Wednesday night Israeli successfully targeted senior Hamas military commanders, killing three of the al-Qassam Brigades’ senior leaders. Avi Issacharoff of The Times of Israel provides analysis, arguing that in conjunction with the attack on Qassam Brigades commander Muhmammad Deif, the operation shows that Israeli intelligence has penetrated Hamas’ military wing.

In response to the attack, Hamas summarily executed 18 suspected informants in Gaza. This follows reporting [Note: yet to be independently confirmed] last week that Hamas executed dozens of workers responsible for its extensive tunnel system in order to prevent them from providing information to Israeli intelligence.

Hamas Terrorism

In the wake of ISIS’s beheading of American photojournalist James Foley, three separate authors – Daniel Gordis in Bloomberg, Alan Dershowitz in The Jerusalem Post, Jonathan Tobin in Commentary – analogize Hamas’s threat to Israel to ISIS’s threat to the West.

Finally, on Wednesday a senior Hamas official publicly confirmed that the Hamas was indeed behind the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers that triggered the chain of events leading to the current conflict. This is significant, because some news outlets/analysts had seized on an anonymous quote allegedly from an Israeli official a month ago saying the Israeli government did not know who was behind the attack as evidence that the entire conflict was an Israeli conspiracy.

Update – August 8, 2014

Israeli Options

The last week saw several useful analyses of Israel’s policy options – from both before and during the now-defunct ceasefire – that remain relevant in the wake of renewed fighting:

Hamas’ Options

Two good pieces assessed the ceasefire from Hamas’ perspective, which goes some way towards explaining why they were willing to resume hostilities so quickly:

Hamas’ Ideology

A few writers also explored another factor driving the conflict – Hamas’ ideological motivations – which have received surprisingly little attention in the press:

And in the New Republic, counter-terrorism expert Matthew Levitt argues that the social dynamics within Gaza make it highly unlikely that ISIS or another Salafist group could assert control of that territory if Hamas were swept from power.

The Media and Casualties

In The Commentator, Daniel Schwammenthal cites numerous incidents suggesting the apparent willful blindness of the Western media in reporting from Gaza.

Conversely, two separate articles in The New York Times and the BBC urge caution at taking civilian casualty figures reported from Gaza at face value, noting that Hamas operatives seldom wear uniforms and that a disproportionately large number of reported civilian casualties have been military age males.

And this week the IDF posted a copy of Hamas’ Combat Manual on its blog, which provides explicit guidance to the terror network’s operatives to operate from heavily populated areas.

The United Nations and Gaza

Finally, two pieces assess the damage caused by the United Nations’ actions:

Update – August 1, 2014


Defense News compares Operation Protective Edge at the 23-day mark to 2008-2009’s Operation Cast Lead by the numbers, while The Times of Israel has produced an informative primer on Hamas’ military capabilities, from troop strength to tactics.

As public opinion polls consistently show that over 90% of Israelis oppose a ceasefire in Gaza before Israel’s objectives are achieved, Ari Shavit writes in Ha’aretz: “Those who are even slightly forgiving of Hamas are cooperating with a fanatically tyrannical regime,” showing even the Israeli Left is strongly behind Operation Protective Edge.

Similarly, in the Wall Street Journal Brett Stephens writes that “To argue the Palestinian side, in this war, is to make the case for barbarism.”

Israel’s Options

David Horovitz, who has been providing some of the best analysis of Israeli side of the conflict, outlines why Prime Minister Netanyahu is reluctant to commit to a full-scale ground offensive.

Arguing against the conventional wisdom that Israel is winning tactically but losing the narrative war, Brent Sasley writes in Politico that Israel is clearly winning strategically as well.

Proportionality and the Laws of War

As the Washington Post documents Hamas’ use of hospitals, mosques, and schools as weapons depots, former prosecutor Andrew McCarthy outlines how these actions violate the laws of war and make such structures legitimate targets in time of war.

Dore Gold (whom we briefly met in Jerusalem in May as we waited for Prime Minister Netanyahu) explains why Israeli operations in Shajaiya, Gaza, were both necessary and in accordance with the principle of proportionality in international law.

The Diplomatic Front

The New York Times reports that Arab leaders perceive Hamas as a greater threat than Israel, and unlike in past operations are remaining silent in the face of Israel’s offensive.

Secretary of State John Kerry’s attempt to negotiate a ceasefire has drawn fire from some unlikely quarters:

Tactics and Technology

Finally, after three weeks of operations, some interesting analysis of the tactics and technology involved in the fighting:

Update – July 25, 2014


Strategic Options

Two good pieces this week focusing on Israel’s strategic options as Operation Protective Edge enters its third week:

In an earlier piece, Amb. Oren suggests the solution to the conflict is to demilitarize Gaza, citing the PLO’s 1982 evacuation of Beirut and the removal of chemical weapons from Syria as precedents. The Washington Post editorial board similarly argued that disarming Hamas should be U.S. policy and the key to a cease fire.

Terror Tunnels

Three pieces discuss the terror tunnels the JINSA delegation visited in May, and which precipitated the current ground offensive:

Human Shields in Gaza

Several reports noted the deeper significance behind the rising death toll amongst Palestinian civilians in Gaza:

Media War

  • Two pieces focus more narrowly on the strategic communications aspect of the conflict, a topic that generated a great deal of discussion during the G&A Trip in May:

  • A report on the web magazine Mashable claims that Israel is losing the narrative battle on social media, at least as reflected in the number of hashtags on twitter.

  • One possible explanation for the imbalanced reporting of the conflict lies in Hamas’ intimidation of journalists, as exemplified in this account of a French-Palestinian correspondent’s ordeal. (Note also that in Dagga’s account all the Hamas fighters are wearing civilian clothes, and their headquarters are in a Gaza hospital.)

Israel’s Home Front