Is the Egyptian military stronger than Israel
For how much longer? How long will the bombs fall on Gaza? How much longer will Israel be fired at with rockets? The calls for a ceasefire in the conflict between the Israeli army and the Palestinian Hamas are getting louder and more urgent. The German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) now even wants to present them personally in Jerusalem and Ramallah.
But the conflicting parties are still concentrating on the fight - and in a sober conference room of the Israeli army in Tel Aviv, a senior officer, who should not be quoted by name, says: "We have already achieved a lot, but there is still work to be done."
The decision to end the fighting is not made by the military, but by politics, i.e. the government in Jerusalem. And of course Israel does not make this decision alone, it requires a complicated negotiation and coordination process with Hamas. But in the almost two-hour briefing to which the Israeli army invited a group of international correspondents on Wednesday, it becomes clear that the goal that Israel has defined for this war appears to be quickly achievable, but much remains open.
The army is only concerned with one thing: "deterrence". Hamas, it is said, should learn the lesson that attacks on Israel come at a heavy price. "The stronger the message, the longer it will remain quiet afterwards," says the senior officer. However, it is admittedly not enough for the Israeli army to just send this message to Gaza. It should also be heard in Beirut, at the Lebanese Hezbollah. And above all, it should penetrate as far as Tehran.
"Iran is also behind these events in Gaza," believes the senior Israeli officer. "There is not only nuclear Iran, this shows another dimension of the Iranian threat." It is true that the rockets for the fight against Israel are built in the Gaza Strip themselves. The smuggling of earlier times has long been stopped by Egypt. According to Israeli estimates, however, "90 percent of the know-how of Hamas and Islamic Jihad comes from Iran."
Israel speaks of "very, very important successes"
As a deterrent, the army is relying on the sustained destruction of the military infrastructure in the Gaza Strip - and what has been achieved so far is presented by the senior officer in a graphic with colorful circles. The red circles stand for fields on which far-reaching successes have been achieved, yellow stands for low effectiveness.
All those areas that clearly have priority for the army in this war are already marked in red in the graphic: targeted strikes against the tunnel system created by Hamas under the Gaza Strip, against the facilities for the manufacture and storage of weapons and against the command structure of Hamas Killings. From these red circles it can be concluded that the Israeli army has already achieved its main objectives. The senior officer speaks of "very, very important successes". Now it must be checked whether these are sufficient.
It is up to the leadership in Jerusalem to examine it, and according to Israeli media reports - even under increasing international pressure - the voices of supporters of a ceasefire are increasing there. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will only give in when he can clearly present himself as the winner. "We are not here with the stopwatch," he said on Wednesday. There is no time frame for the military operation.
In fact, he has time on his side. Because the war runs parallel to his personal struggle for political survival. The fighting that broke out ten days ago has already pulverized the well-advanced plans to form a government of his opponents. As a victorious general, he can calculate increasing chances of maintaining power.
Hamas has reportedly indicated its readiness for a ceasefire on several occasions. However, there is speculation that this could be tied to conditions such as Israel's relenting in the dispute over the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem. The threatened expulsion of Palestinian families there and unrest on the Temple Mount had been used by Hamas as an opportunity for the rocket fire.
Militarily, Hamas must actually have a keen interest in a quick end to the fighting. However, the Islamists can lose the war in Gaza and still achieve a political victory. Because in the ten days since the first rockets were fired, they have been able to present themselves as the new Palestinian leadership.
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