What Is Israel's Endgame in the War With Hamas?

(Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ridge Leoni/U.S. Navy via AP, FIle)

The war between Israel and Hamas is now in its second day, and Israel is striking back. There are now indications that Americans may be among the hostages Hamas is holding, which means that, for better or worse, the United States will by necessity be involved in this fracas one way or another. 

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Which begs the question: How will this all end? There has to be a conclusion at some point; what will it look like?

It's impossible to know, of course, at this early stage in the conflict, but there are a couple of things that Israeli (and American) leaders should keep in mind.

First: As far as Israel is concerned, the gloves are off.

The Prime Minister's Office announced at the end of the security cabinet meeting that "a series of operational decisions were made whose purpose is to bring about the destruction of the military and governmental capabilities of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, in a way that will negate their ability and desire to threaten and harm the citizens of Israel for many years."

That sounds an awful lot like, "We're going to kill them all if that is what it takes."

As for how this ends, The Federalist's John Daniel Davidson has some thoughts:

But one thing is immediately clear: Gaza will now be reduced to rubble. Israel, on the 50th anniversary of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, is once again in a fight for its existence, and the gloves will come off.

Given the long-established facts of the Israel-Palestinian question, this is as it should be. For all the talk about Nazis in Ukraine lately, the truth is that the real Nazis are in the Middle East, and they are all enemies of Israel. It’s time to deal with them for good. Hamas must be eradicated just as the Nazis were eradicated. Any end to this war that doesn’t achieve that will be a catastrophe for Israel.

For its part, the U.S. should make clear that it will veto any U.N. ceasefire resolution before Israel declares victory. And an actual victory will require Israel seizing control of all Gaza’s territory and then going house to house, seizing every weapon and killing everyone who doesn’t surrender. The Israelis will have to keep this up until the unconditional surrender of Hamas.

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That, yes, would certainly end the current conflict, and yes, one can hardly blame Israel for hoisting the black flag after yesterday's attacks from Gaza into southern Israel, with all of the well-documented atrocities that have taken place.

But let's assume that Israel removes Hamas completely from the field, as they have stated their goal to "...negate their ability and design to threaten and harm the citizens of Israel." What then? One need only look at Hamas' patron state, Iran, for the answer. It's almost certainly no coincidence that the Hamas attack on Israel was supported by an Iran emboldened by the recent displays of weakness by the United States, and Iran will continue to support Hamas, Hezbollah, and any other group that has the stated goal of the eradication of Israel.

In other words, the Middle East may be starting down a road that has escalation as its destination.

And on that note: Now, this morning, we see that the US Department of Defense has not only ordered a carrier task group to the area but has also pledged arms and munitions support to Israel:

I (Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III) have directed the movement of the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group to the Eastern Mediterranean. This includes the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60), as well as the Arleigh-Burke-class guided missile destroyers USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116), USS Ramage (DDG 61), USS Carney (DDG 64), and USS Roosevelt (DDG 80). We have also taken steps to augment U.S. Air Force F-35, F-15, F-16, and A-10 fighter aircraft squadrons in the region. The U.S. maintains ready forces globally to further reinforce this deterrence posture if required.

In addition, the United States government will be rapidly providing the Israel Defense Forces with additional equipment and resources, including munitions. The first security assistance will begin moving today and arriving in the coming days.

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The Taliban has expressed a desire to join the jihadEgyptian policemen have fired on Israeli tourists - and Egypt is considered one of the more moderate states in the Muslim world. Russia, China, and Turkey's responses have been, at best, tepid; those countries seem to be keeping their options open.

All of those matters should be concerning Israel today, but the 800-pound gorilla in the room remains Iran. Israel is today fighting Hamas, but their real enemy is the Islamic Republic, and until that is resolved, one way or another, there will be no lasting peace for Israel.

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