Hamas subdued despite Gaza victory claim-Israeli military

JERUSALEM Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:50am EST

Palestinians wave Hamas flags during a rally celebrating what they claim to be Hamas' victory over Israel in the Gaza conflict, in the West Bank city of Ramallah November 23, 2012. Israeli troops at the Gaza border shot dead a Palestinian man and wounded 15 more on Friday, health officials said, in the first fatality since a ceasefire between the territory's Islamist rulers Hamas and Israel. The banner reads: ''The resistance has achieved victory.'' REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Palestinians wave Hamas flags during a rally celebrating what they claim to be Hamas' victory over Israel in the Gaza conflict, in the West Bank city of Ramallah November 23, 2012. Israeli troops at the Gaza border shot dead a Palestinian man and wounded 15 more on Friday, health officials said, in the first fatality since a ceasefire between the territory's Islamist rulers Hamas and Israel. The banner reads: ''The resistance has achieved victory.''

Credit: Reuters/Mohamad Torokman

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's offensive on Gaza has deterred Hamas from new hostilities despite its claims of victory and the front is now at its quietest in 20 years, a senior Israeli military officer said.

Vastly lopsided shelling exchanges over eight days killed 170 Palestinians and 6 Israelis before the November 21 truce brokered by Egypt.

The Islamist militant group Hamas, which for the first time managed to fire rockets towards Tel Aviv and Jerusalem during the conflict, says it won in the absence of an Israeli ground invasion that might have toppled its Gaza administration.

The officer said Hamas should be allowed to save face after failing to inflict more pain on the Jewish state.

"Their jubilation was not from victory, it was from their relief at being able to emerge from shelters," said the officer, who could not be identified by name under military regulations.

"They took a major blow and they have to patch up their honor," he said.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians took to the streets of the Gaza Strip last weekend to welcome the first visit by their previously exiled leader Khaled Meshaal. He declared victory at a rally and vowed to seize all of modern-day Israel one day.

The ceasefire brought Palestinians access to border farmland and fishing waters that Israel had previously kept off-limits and truce talks might lead to a further rolling back of Israel's blockade of the coastal strip.

There have been scattered confrontations since, with Israeli troops killing two Palestinians who neared the border fence.

The officer said such incidents were rare and lacked the backing of Hamas and other armed Palestinian factions, which he said were now "thoroughly daunted" by Israel and trying to shore up the calm or at least avoid breaching it.

"A quiet like we had over the past month hasn't happened in 20 years," the officer said.

Palestinians won limited self-rule in 1993. Gaza was a hotbed of a Palestinian revolt that erupted in 2000, leading Israel to pull out five years later. Hamas took over the enclave in a Palestinian war in 2007 and has often fought Israel since.

HARSHER NEXT TIME

The officer would not be drawn on how long the calm might hold but threatened heavier bombing in any future offensive.

Though Israel killed the Hamas military chief, Ahmed al-Jaabari, in a November 14 air strike, the officer said several other commanders had been spared because non-combatants were nearby.

During the fighting, Israeli officials accused militants of sheltering in Gaza's Shifa hospital and other civilian sites.

In the next round, the officer, said, "I won't fire on Shifa. But I won't be able to keep to sterile strikes like I did in this round. I intend to kill the brigade commanders and battalion commanders wherever they are."

Gaza hospitals said at least half of the Palestinian dead in the offensive were civilians. Israel put the number of slain combatants at 120, around two-thirds of the toll.

Israel says it destroyed almost all of Gaza's most powerful rockets, whose 75 km (48 miles) ranges put Tel Aviv in reach. The officer said these included Iranian-designed Fajr-5s and Hamas's homemade Qassam M-75, which, he said, had similar range but carried warheads with only around a tenth of the explosives.

The strikes also destroyed stores of dozens of Kornet anti-tank missiles and pilotless drones, the officer said.

Replacing them would take a long time, the officer said, adding Israel had been reassured as part of the truce that Egypt would clamp down on arms trafficking to Gaza through the Sinai.

Hamas denies it lost a significant amount of hardware and celebrated the fact that it managed to fire several rockets at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem - though these all fell wide or were intercepted by the Iron Dome interceptor system.

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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Comments (12)
paintcan wrote:
These two “peoples” are very much alike. They enjoy, and even preen themselves, over their mutual sado-masochistic games. They look in a mirror every time they engage in their sport

It would be easier to accept the Israeli stand if it wasn’t for their own self destructive tendencies and their peculiar self-definition that seems to be the root of at least some, if not most, of the problems in the region. But without Hamas or the Palestinians in general, the Israeli’s would lack the “enemy” they need to keep the myth of “Zionism” alive at all. That identity cannot exist without a steady supply of “enemies” or they might actually realize there is no real need for it except as an exercise in national vanity.

I haven’t read one word anywhere here that suggested that anyone made any attempt to get the kids in Gaza out of harms way. Can’t afford to loose future reasons for resentment, perhaps?

It is nonsense that most people really want “peace” in life. It is too boring and not nearly profitable enough for some and the myths of religious identity start to loose their grip on the minds of the captives. People who are very much alike seem to have the hardest times living with each other. They seem to step on each other’s psychological “toes” too often.

In ten years I have come to appreciate that a regular dose of terror is what really gets many people up in the morning. Without terror, life would not have an element of desperation. But it is insanity to have to self-inflict it, and it can only be called self-inflicted there. The contest is so well worn and so well analyzed it is a pas de deux that can only be performed by criminals.

Maybe these “peoples” are becoming a little too inbred and that is why they have engaged in a Hatfied/McCoy feud for over 60 years? And I say that in spite of the fact that I can’t really see what makes either very different for each other.

Hey – its Christmas – and I’m trying to think “peace on earth good will toward men”. I really know better. Chanukah seems to prefer a desperate struggle. Islam doesn’t seem to have a holiday for the Solstice.

Dec 14, 2012 8:50am EST  --  Report as abuse
SchWI wrote:
A victory? Defined by Hamas as the fact that just over a hundred people died, massive damage to infrastructure and Israel did not invade? These people really have no hope or desire for anything else if they are celebrating that.

Dec 14, 2012 9:32am EST  --  Report as abuse
Rich_F wrote:
hamas represents the worst of the human race everyone would be better off if they disappeared.

Dec 14, 2012 10:50am EST  --  Report as abuse
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