This is a guest post by Eric Lee. It was submitted to the Guardian’s Comment is Free, which did not publish it.
Mousa Abu Marzook, deputy chief of the Hamas political bureau, thinks that Israel has lost the battle in Gaza. He certainly has the right to think that. And one can understand why Hamas leaders will want to say such things. But why anyone outside the ranks of that organisation would want to listen is beyond me.
Anyone watching television news in recent days, now that foreign reporters have been able to enter Gaza, can see with their own eyes what has happened.
Whatever one thinks of what Israel did, whether it was provoked or not, whether it should or should not have attacked, the fact remains that Israel attacked Gaza with overwhelming military force.
The only way that could have turned into a Hamas victory would have been divine intervention. But not only was there no divine intervention, no earthly power came to Hamas’ aid either. Not their fellow Islamists in Hizbollah. Not their fellow Palestinians in the West Bank. Not even their sponsors, Iran.
Everyone had kind words for them, but in the end they faced the full power of the Israel Defence Forces alone.
It takes a very special way of looking at things to see here some kind of victory for Hamas.
What does Marzook see that no one else does?
First, he makes up a series of Israeli war aims that he alone knows about. Israel’s declared war aims were to stop the rocket fire, which it has now achieved. Unless Hamas is even crazier than we thought, Israel has actually bought its civilian population at least a breathing spell after some 8,000 rockets and mortar shells fired over the last few years.
Marzook says there were other war aims which were not achieved. For example, overthrowing the Hamas government. Well, if we’re going to make up war aims for the Israeli government, why not show some imagination? For example, let’s claim that Israel’s real aim was to kill every single child in Gaza. They clearly did not achieve that aim. Therefore, they were defeated.
Marzook also thinks that the war proves that the Palestinians (he means Hamas) “can never be broken”. So I guess this means that Hamas only stopped its rocket fire once Israel had re-opened all the border crossings and ended the blockade? That is more-or-less what Hamas said it wanted all along. And as we all know, Israel did no such thing.
Gaza is still largely cut-off from the world and with the closing down of the tunnels to Egypt, it will be even more cut-off. So what exactly is it that Hamas compelled Israel to do with its “heroic” resistance? Not much. The situation today is pretty much what it was before the fighting started, but with a lot less rocket fire directed against Israel.
And of course, there are now many hundreds of dead Palestinians – mostly Hamas fighters, but also, tragically innocent civilians too.
Which brings me to Marzook’s final fantasy. He is convinced that Hamas is stronger than ever before. The Palestinians living in Gaza, he believes, are more convinced than ever before of the wisdom of the Hamas leaders.
Again, it’s his right to believe that, and it must be comforting to him. But the evidence on the ground is that the population in Gaza must be questioning – at the very least – just how smart it was to provoke a regional superpower with pin-prick rocket attacks over many months.
Reports pouring out of Gaza this week of the torture and killing of “collaborators” — in many cases, members of the rival Fatah movement – indicate that Hamas is actually not entirely sure how well-loved it is following the war.
If this is what victory looks like, Mr. Marzook, I’d hate to see what you mean by defeat.