Wednesday, November 22, 2023

  • Wednesday, November 22, 2023
  • Elder of Ziyon

The biggest problems with the hostage deal
(expanded from a tweet.)

I really hate to second-guess Israeli government decisions, because they have access to far more information than I do, but I am afraid that this hostage deal will undo most of Israel's gains against Hamas in the past six weeks. In fact, while inmost deals each side is forced to give up something, in this deal Hamas only gains.

From Israel's perspective, the war has two aims, and they contradict each other. One is to defeat Hamas and the other is to free the hostages. Truly going after Hamas dooms the kidnapped victims or risks hundreds of soldiers' lives. But making a deal strengthens Hamas immeasurably.

Hamas' attack also had two aims. They want to terrorize Jews to feel insecure in their own country and they want to force a prisoner deal.Those goals are self-reinforcing.

During the course of the war, Hamas added a third goal: to make Israel look like an inhuman genocidal machine. Thanks to the modern antisemitic Left, that goal is well on its way.

Israel's evacuation of the towns in the Gaza envelope, while necessary, has already helped Hamas achieve the first goal.

And now they have succeeded in the second goal as well.

As always, we must look at the deal through the lens of the Arab honor/shame mentality. The only shame that Hamas fears is the shame of being destroyed. They certainly don't look at the destruction of Gaza as anything shameful; on the contrary, videos of rubble and dead Gazans is evidence of Israeli "genocide." Hamas, which pretends to love martyrdom, is not admitting to any casualties because that contradicts their goal of demonizing Israel in the international arena. They control all information leaving Gaza and therefore thousands of their own casualties are magically "civilian."

From the honor/shame perspective, this deal is a complete win for Hamas. And it is also a way to recruit more jihadis.

Hamas retains plenty of hostages, and even one remaining hostage has nearly the same value to Hamas as 240. The Gilad Shalit episode proved that.

Hamas getting rid of women and children hostages also allows them to get rid of their biggest headache in the public opinion war. They cannot justify the kidnapping of innocents, and now they won't have to. They want to divest themselves of the women, children and internationals - and now they not only get the benefits of eliminating Israel's main moral talking point, but also they gain the release of prisoners, one of their main goals. It is a win-win-win for Hamas: it also allows Hamas to pause and regroup, to re-establish the communications with its battalions that were lost and coordinate war strategy. Also it helps Hamas prestige in the Arab world and among the anti-Israel Left as well.

The deal helps Hamas position the deal as a "prisoner swap." This is a huge victory for Hamas as well, as they pretend that hostages are simply prisoners of war and that the abductions were not war crimes but simply following international law when an enemy fighter falls into your hands. It allows them to position themselves as a legitimate army.

For Hamas, there is no downside.

Finally, there is another crucial part of the deal that no one seems to talk about because it seems so trivial: Hamas' demand for fuel.

This fuel isn't for ordinary Gazans. They aren't asking for food or medicine. The fuel is for Hamas, and it will allow them to extend the war for many more months.

Hamas' main military advantage is the tunnels. Israel cannot attack them without huge losses. But Hamas cannot maintain that advantage without electricity. Without power, they lose two essentials: light and air. They need generators to bring in outside air and avoid suffocation. Without the generators, Hamas would be forced to go above ground mere hours after losing fuel. Blockading fuel is the single most important thing Israel can do to defeat Hamas, and it would probably be the best way to save the hostages as well. But that is now gone.

There has been speculation that Hamas has plenty of fuel for months of fighting. But that is all it is - speculation. I would argue that their prioritizing fuel in this deal means that their reserves that they can reach are smaller than people think.

Time is on Hamas' side because - especially after getting rid of the problematic civilian hostages - Hamas has a clear PR advantage over Israel that would only increase over time, forcing more pressure on Israel not to continue fighting and hurting Gaza civilians. Hamas has turned their use of Gaza civilians as human shields into a complete propaganda win.

The deal is a complete victory for Hamas in every sense. It encourages them or their Islamist successors to do more kidnappings, more massacres. It keeps them in power far longer than anyone thought.

In Jewish law, one is discouraged from paying too steep a price for captives. While this deal is not as bad as the Shalit deal yet, Hamas will be able to extort more and more for the remaining hostages.

As with the Shalit deal, in the long term, Israel may pay a far steeper price for this deal than it could possibly gain. That means more murdered Jews and more kidnapped Jews.

It sounds callous, but if given a choice, defeating today's Nazis is more important than saving the lives of the hostages - because we've already seen that capitulating causes far more deaths in the long run.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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