If Hamas wins, who loses?
An Associated Press analysis published Friday in this and many other newspapers deemed Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “winners” in the cease-fire agreement signed with Hamas Wednesday night. Yet that same analysis identified Hamas as a winner, too.
It would be wonderful if both sides in the recent violence that nearly sparked an Israeli ground offensive into the Gaza Strip are so pleased with this truce that a resumption of hostilities is avoided.
However, it would be naive to dismiss suspicions about the motives — and the future actions — of Hamas, a terrorist organization that runs Gaza.
Maybe Hamas is simply playing for time, averting what appeared to be that impending Israeli armored assault while restocking a depleted arsenal of rockets.
After all, given its brutal, duplicitous track record, Hamas can’t realistically be trusted to keep its word about anything — especially when offering assurances that it will stop firing rockets into Israel.
When Israel defends itself from such aggression with air strikes at Hamas rocket-launching sites, it invariably — and incorrectly — is portrayed as the villain due to the numerical imbalance of fatalities.
Because Hamas’ projectiles are notoriously inaccurate, the death toll of Israeli civilians is relatively light, though that comes as scant consolation to Israelis wondering where the next rocket will fall.
Because Hamas fires its rockets from Gaza residential areas, the death toll of Palestinian civilians is much higher when Israel takes action to neutralize those threats.
But Hamas starts these fights — then decries the Palestinian fatalities that its own methods inevitably produce.
And the rockets that Hamas has lately used to reach deeper into Israel than ever before were supplied by Iran.
There is good reason to think that the timing of these attacks is linked to Iran’s political agenda for the Middle East. Iran is on the offensive in the region to save the government of its ally Syria from being overthrown.
And it is getting help from Russia and Iraq. Moscow is shipping advanced weapons to the forces of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, while Iraq is green-lighting arms shipments to Assad through its territory direct from Iran.
Iran is reminding the world that it can provoke a Middle East War when it wants. And Hamas is only a jab at Israel. A much more threatening arsenal of missiles is in the hands of Iran’s ally Hezbollah, the militia that has virtually taken over Lebanon and stands as a major threat on Israel’s northern border.
Meanwhile, Iran continues its march toward obtaining a nuclear arsenal.
Another troubling Mideast reality is the rise of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi as a major Mideast player since his election in June. The Muslim Brotherhood leader grabbed even more power in Cairo Thursday by declaring himself “the guardian” of Egypt’s revolution — a designation that places him above the authority of the nation’s courts.
President Morsi also acted a mediator for the Israeli-Hamas cease-fire this week. However, fierce anti-Israeli rhetoric from Mr. Morsi’s government shows that it’s far from neutral — and far from reliable in its future compliance with Egypt’s 1979 Camp David Accords with Israel.
As for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, his chances for re-election in January supposedly have been boosted by the truce.
But the chances for a lasting peace remain slim until whoever represents the Palestinian people can demonstrate good faith in ending the longtime quest to kill Israeli civilians.
And anyone who has faith that Hamas will keep the peace is ignoring the persisting hatred of Israel in the Mideast — and the relentless terror menace fueled by that ingrained hostility.