Ask either of the protagonists in this Israel-Hamas flare-up where it ends and they will likely, in private at least and spin notwithstanding, tell you the same thing. Another fragile ceasefire, Hamas retains control of Gaza, Israel retains its blockade against Hamas and by extension its collective punishment of the Gazan civilian population and Hamas continues to be boycotted internationally. Israel will claim that Hamas has been dealt a harsh blow, deterrence restored; Hamas will counter that the resistance stood its ground, that the Israeli Defence Forces were deterred from re-invading.
There are good reasons to bet on this outcome. Israel has no better option. The alternatives – bedding down for a prolonged re-occupation of Gaza, handing Gaza to friendly Palestinians on the back of an Israeli tank, or to Egypt, or weakening Hamas so much that Gaza becomes a Somalia or Anbar-like chaotic ungoverned space – are all either unrealistic or undesirable. Hamas itself has no winning card to play.
Continue reading on the Guardian website.
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