Once again Israeli planes are bombing terrorist targets and IDF troops will make a foray into terrorist held territory-- only to then be swiftly ordered home again.
This type of operation has become a regular feature of the Post-Oslo Israeli military, pointless engagements that lightly wound terrorists, and then leave them to nurse their wounds, while giving the politicians who ordered them a brief boost in their poll ratings.
The Pre-Oslo Israeli military had as its objective to defeat the enemy and secure strategic territory. Post-Oslo, Israeli continues giving up strategic territory, and occasionally carrying out operations whose objective is never to defeat, but to slightly intimidate the enemy.
Mission accomplished. Israel has been playing this game with Arafat's Fatah on and off for years, bombing empty warehouses, taking out the occasional high ranking terrorist, and cleaning up a cell or two, before returning home. These raids made no long term difference at all, their only purpose was to remind the enemy that Israel had a powerful military capability, even as it reminded them that Israel was not prepared to actually unleash it.
Now Arafat's Fatah has become Abbas' Fatah, propped up by the United States in the West Bank, and desperate to shake loose Hamas' grip on Gaza. Kadima's withdrawal from Gaza turned it over to Hamas. Nor is Livni and company about to go along with a permanent reoccupation of Gaza. Which makes this entire venture particularly useless.
Everyone has their parts to play. Hamas and their Western supporters will be screaming about genocide. The UN will condemn Israel. The US and Egypt, which sees the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas' grandfathers, breathing down their necks, will back Israel, while urging deescalation. The picture show will wind down with Israeli troops leaving Gaza, while Iran resupplies Hamas with weapons and cash, just as they did for Hizbollah after the Second Lebanon War.
In Israel only the right and the far left will point out the general uselessness of the operation. This won't matter because footage of bombs falling on Gaza will do a great deal to reassure the average Israeli that their government has finally woken up and is doing something about the rocket attacks, without asking where the bombs are falling or even noticing that the rocket attacks are still continuing.
Israel has no doubt killed some Hamas terrorists, at a probable cost of a few million dollars per fighter. It has also reminded Hamas and Iran that it has become a paper tiger which can be counted on to cause some damage, before it retreats back into its lair. Until Israel shows that it is prepared to deny Gaza to Hamas by retaking it, picture shows such as this serve no purpose except to give the international media something to talk about.
Livni and Barak have improved their election prospects, squandered huge amounts of money, and given Hamas the PR boost they wanted. And while top Hamas leaders are no doubt trembling in their bunkers somewhere underneath a children's school, a hospital or a foreign aid office, they will emerge a week from now, deliver press conferences, and vow to continue the resistance.
Israel meant to show Hamas that it can hurt it, but Hamas already knew this. What Israel has failed to show time and time again, is that it can destroy it.
Shooting to Lightly Wound impresses no one. Hamas cares nothing for human life, and it can easily replace the low level fighters who fall. And anyone higher ranking will get a martyrs brigade named after them.
While Obama's team in D.C. grits their teeth, watches their TV's and curses the Bush administration, even while knotting a fresh noose for Israeli's impudence in bombing the very same people Obama's advisers were conducting negotiations with-- Livni and Barak pretend that they're strong leaders, rather than corrupt fools with no long term objective who appear incapable of even thinking strategically on any subject beyond their own careers.
A month from now the fresh infusion of Iranian weapons may well help Hamas finish off Fatah in the West Bank as well. And the only way Fatah can avoid that is to stop the defections of its own men into Fatah's ranks by carrying out terrorist attacks against Israel. Attacks that Israel will be forced to ignore, because Abbas is the "moderate" terrorist godfather whom we're relying on to keep Hamas at bay.
If Livni and Barak succeed in finagling this latest disaster into a new government, the odds will be good that we can look forward to State Department diplomats, courtesy of Hillary and Powers, conducting negotiations between Hamas and Israel for a two state solution, this time with Abbas on the sidelines in a coalition government where Hamas has the upper hand. Assuming Abbas even holds out that long.
Meanwhile Israel awaits a government that can finish the terrorists, instead of conducting bombing raids as picture shows. A government that will put boots on the ground, reclaim Gaza, and dig out the terrorist nests there. Until that government comes along, such operations will be nothing more than picture shows, conducted by an increasingly under equipped military, devoid of any real strategic doctrine or plan, beyond putting some big explosions on television in the deluded hope that will will intimidate the terrorists into leaving us alone.
The hour grows late, and the picture show continues.