There is a clear pattern which Hamas relies on in its war against Israel. It launches rockets (or deploys suicide murderers, or kidnaps soldiers). Israel forbears as long as it can—arguably, much longer than it should. Israel finally engages in military action to quell the threat against its citizens. There are Palestinian casualties, because Hamas terrorists hide themselves and their weapons in apartment blocks, schools, hospitals and mosques. Hamas cries about “Israeli war crimes,” which the media credulously amplifies, although these are actually Hamas crimes against the people of Gaza. The “international community” pressures Israel to end its operation. Hamas is rescued, claims victory, and immediately begins replenishing its supply of weapons to resume terrorism against Israel.
This is irrational. It puts Israel in the position of fighting a Sisyphean war of attrition in which its military superiority cannot be brought decisively to bear.
Moreover, aside from being a danger to Israel, Hamas rule is a disaster for Gaza. Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, oppresses women. It persecutes Christians. It harasses secular, modern-minded Palestinians. It engages in intimidation of journalists, arbitrary arrests and torture. It broadcasts on Gaza television: “Bombs are more precious than children.”
There is no moral argument in favor of deliberately permitting Hamas to retain its capacity to commit war crimes against Israel and human rights violations against the people of Gaza. The destruction of Hamas (assuming even worse Salafists weren’t empowered) would be the deliverance of Gaza as well as benefiting Israel.
Thus, the conventional wisdom that the most desirable outcome of Operation Pillar of Defense would be the swift imposition of a ceasefire is doubtful, to say the least.
What is the alternative? I leave that to Israel’s political and military leaders. All the choices are awful. But—and this is important—that does not automatically mean that a ceasefire is the best of the bad choices.
Gaza’s civilians will suffer, despite Israel’s continuing to send supplies to the strip and its heroic efforts to minimize civilian casualties. This is the terrible result of Hamas’ murderous war against the Jewish state. And they suffer now, under Hamas' cruel government.
When Hitler instigated his war of conquest and genocide, there was no thought of a ceasefire that would leave the Nazis in power. The goal was the destruction of Nazism, even though the German civilian population would inevitably suffer. The war against Hamas stands on the same moral footing.