The game changer that we didn’t see coming – Operation Protective Edge

If I was just returning home, after being stranded on a remote island for the past year, I wouldn’t have believed the news; not because of the success of Iron Dome, or the complex tunnel system that Hamas dug under the feet of the Israeli defense forces, but because of the support for Israel that came from unexpected places.

Operation Protective Edge brought many victories and many firsts to Israel. It brought to light the massive change in the geopolitical landscape in the Middle East; a change that occurred quickly and for no other reason but the rise of the extremist Islamic groups in the region. The rise of ISIS, the disintegration of Iraq, Syria, Libya, and soon Afghanistan, and the imminent  danger to countries like Jordan and Saudi Arabia, forced moderate Arab countries to ask themselves who is the real enemy. Do they prefer a Middle East with Israel or without Israel? Who will come to their aid if ISIS attacks them? Can they trust the European Union and the US to be there for them, or will the US and the European Union take the same position as they took during the Arab Spring, which was supporting the popular mob against sitting authoritarian governments?

There is plenty of criticism in Israel about the way that the Israeli government managed the war. There was an article in a leading daily newspaper, titled “How Israel will know if it won the war”.  Israel already won the war. This win is much bigger than defeating Hamas, it’s a game changer. Here are some examples:

1. In this war it became a public knowledge that the Israeli and the Egyptian governments are close allies: Israel trusts Egypt more than any other country (including the US) to broker the cease fire agreement with Hamas.  Hamas complains that Egypt is an obstacle in reaching an agreement with Israel. Hamas was quoted saying that it would have preferred dealing directly with Israel since the Egyptians cease fire negotiators twist the Israeli responses to be tougher than they really are.

2. Many Israelis are considering the cease fire negotiations that were conducted by the US Administration during the initial phase of the war to favor Hamas, a terror organization, at the expense of Israel.  Israelis felt that the US sided with its enemies (Turkey, Qatar, and Hamas). Israelis blamed the US Secretary of State John Kerry of purposely shutting down most of the commercial flights to Israel as a tactic to force Israel into a bad cease fire agreement, while rockets were falling on Israeli cities in large numbers. It is believed in Israel that the Saudi and the Egyptian governments pressured the US administration to back off and stop forcing Israel into a bad agreement that favored Hamas.

3. In their silence, most of the Arab countries and the Palestinian Authority actually supported Israel in the war against Hamas. At the same time, Israel supports turning over to the Palestinian Authority the control over the access points the Gaza strip.

4. It seems that Hamas’ tactic to use the media against Israel, by showing civilian casualties and blaming Israel for it, did not work this time. It’s true, there were many support demonstrations for Hamas in Europe, however, most of the European leaders remained on Israel’s side and the Arab world remained quiet.I was watching Israeli news channels during the war; the Israeli analysts kept bringing up that point that Israel’s time was limited, and that soon international pressure will force Israel to stop its attack on Hamas. This is what they were accustomed to from previous wars. However, this time, with the exception of the US administration, the pressure never came. In France, where antisemitism has reached a frightening level, 75% of the people do not support either side. Only 17% support the Palestinians while 9% Support Israel. It was also a surprise that most of the world saw through Hamas’ propaganda and did not interfere when Israel forced Hamas to its knees.

Still, there was one group of international leaders that was predictable as ever, the UN; it rushed to initiate investigations against Israel with false accusations of war crimes, while turning a blind eye to well-known mass murderers like the Syrian government and ISIS.

It has been a long Israeli struggle to break its isolation in the region. It seems that the process that begun in 1977 in the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt is finally taking a hold and the united Arab front against Israel is cracking in the face of a bigger danger.It’s about time that the Middle East will accept Israel as an equal member for all the good that it brings to the region. The Hundred Years War in Europe was one day over. Let’s hope that the war between the Israelis and their neighbors will also end and soon. I know, it is hard to get used to the idea, there’s plenty of skepticism. I myself visualizing it as a dance of two scorpions holding each other, not sure if they are about to be stroked by the other.

David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister who led the Jewish people in their successful fight to create of a Jewish state for the first time in 2000 years, once said; “If you are not a dreamer, you are not a realist” . The road to peace is not easy; to get there, the extremist Islamic terrorist organization and their supporters must be defeated first. Hamas is the first one in a long list of extremist organizations  that must be removed from power, it needs to be followed by the removal of Hezbollah, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and anyone else who is  following or supporting them.

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