Israel's Big Gamble
On the surface of it all, Israel's actions to protect their citizens from attacks from Hamas rockets that have grown more deadly and able to reach deeper into Israeli territory seems like a clearcut national security choice. One the other hand, Israel faces the possible same muddled outcome as their 2006 mission in Lebanon which was a huge failure despite being a success for the politically embattled Ehud Olmert Administration.
The Israeli effort in Lebanon in July 2006 started shortly after a Hezbollah artillery assault on Israel and eventually resulted in a large mission using Israeli groundtroops before a brokered UN ceasefire. However, as much as a military success as the Israeli military might have had on the ground, the Hezbollah organization wasn't destroyed, and Hezbollah actually gained some undeserved world community sympathy looking like some pathetic poor child beaten up by a schoolyard bully, despite provoking the entire situation and bringing massive military and economic destruction to Lebanon.
The end result of the 2006 war in Lebanon also reminded Israeli voters about the rampant corruption in the politically unpopular Ehud Olmert Administration, and only helped to further this government's decline in public respect as well. For all it's military success, the Lebanon effort was a huge political failure of the Prime Minister Olmert Administration to divert public attention away from a president accused by several women of being a rapist and other serious political problems.
But the Ehud Olmert Administration seems to have learned little from all of this, and the latest efforts against Hamas seem to be straight from the same Lebanon playbook that brought so much political wreckage. And this is despite the fact that this latest military campaign seems like a political act to bolster the election hopes of the ruling Israeli political party ahead of the upcoming elections as well as some effort to improve the stature of Fatah, and weaken Hamas. In both cases, this latest military campaign may not achieve either result. The centrist ruling Israeli party could well find itself losing to the far right party, and that would only guarantee more combat and friction with the Palestinians. And Hamas may actually be strengthened, not weakened by being able to act like some poor victim of a bully, just like Hezbollah was so successful at.
If Israel manages to save a few lives by stopping a few Hamas rockets, then I suppose it has achieved a little something. But otherwise this whole mess is beginning to look an awful lot like Lebanon once again, where radicals and terrorists eventually emerge stronger, rather than defeated.