Now that the fighting with Hamas has stopped, Israel must prepare for a national conversation on how the government moves forward, Gregg Roman, Director of the Middle East Forum, told Arutz Sheva in an exclusive interview.
The conversation must involve all sectors of Israeli society who were threatened by Hamas rockets, including the politicians who have to make the tough decisions at the end of the day.
“When the government, G-d forbid, comes with a fifth round of fighting, we’ll know that it has the support of the sectors of Israel that are either directly effected by the rockets or (indirectly effected),” Roman said.
He believes, for the time being, Hamas is looking for a period of calm to re-arm, as happened in the past.
He added, “It’s not about blaming anyone, it’s about getting ready for the final round rather than a next round.”
He explained that on Thursday, a meeting took place in the building of Egyptian intelligence, where Hamas was on the first floor and Israel was on the second floor, with a runner going up and down the stairs trying to negotiate a fourth longterm ceasefire.
Hamas wants some kind of accommodation so that it can re-arm, and Israel wants to “think of a strategic position vis a vis the Palestinians to deter a fifth round.”
Hamas will never admit to defeat for PR reasons. “I don’t think we necessarily get to that point. I think the internal recognition of saying they lost will reflect in the way in which they dialogue with the international community and also with Israel.”
He noted that during the recent fighting, Hamas launched over 4,000 rockets in 11 days versus the last round in 2007, where they launched 4,500 rockets in 56 days.
“Hamas has increased their ability to launch salvos,” he said.
He spoke to the fact that Israel now has the integration of international law experts within each battalion and air force unit.
The units have to aid by international law predicate before they can attack a target.
While the international community might have been complaining about Israel attacking the building housing the Associated Press and Al Jazeera and Hamas’s intelligence headquarters, Roman sees the real issue being the buildings Israel was no able to hit due to outside pressure.
“The big deal is how many other towers weren’t struck down because there was some kind of balance between civilian and military concerns,” he said.
He noted that IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said that “it’s not through deterrence but through degrading their ability to fight” that Israel will defeat Hamas.
Roman believes he had the chance to put such an operation into place but was “unfortunately constrained by international and domestic concerns of the security cabinet.”
What would a victory against Hamas look like?
If Hamas stated they would be willing to disarm their rocket capabilities in exchange for humanitarian aid, “that might bring a semblance of victory.”
“If they went so far as to say the leaders of Hamas are going to evacuate the Gaza Strip because they fear for their lives and their livelihoods, just like with the PLO after 1982 with the Lebanon War, that might be a victory,” Roman said. “More than anything else, the return of Israel’s captives and the bodies of the two soldiers who have been sitting there for seven years with no preconditions from Hamas that might have been part of the victory.”