The failed Israeli operation that targeted Hamas members on Sunday evening confirms that Israel is not sparing any opportunity and is not risking losing any target, regardless of the political situation. It does not care if the truce collapses or survives and it does not care about any international mediator. It has become clear that we are facing a security and military system not governed by politicians and therefore it does not adhere to what they adhere to.
However, the implications of the Israeli operation against the Gaza Strip do not just come down to Israel not caring about the truce or political mediators and not sparing a Palestinian target from its attack. It goes beyond this due to its military nature and sensitive timing, occurring at a time when truce talks under Egyptian auspices are taking place. The most important and prominent implications of this Israeli operation are as follows:
First, judging the success or failure of the operation should not be based on the human losses sustained on either side because this is not a conventional war or a military scale. Instead. Israel’s failure is manifested in the fact that the operation aimed to abduct a Hamas leader, most likely the martyr Nur Baraka who recently obtained a Master’s degree. This operation means that Israel wanted him alive, because if they wanted to kill him, they would use an air strike, not a ground attack, after determining his exact location. This means that according to Israeli assessment, the man possessed important secrets and that is why they wanted to arrest him alive, not assassinate and eliminate him. However, they failed in their operation, as they lost the man and his secrets and came out of the operation with the death of an Israeli officer from the unit that carried out the operation.
Secondly, the Israelis are not respecting the Egyptian mediation for the truce. This means that international guarantees more binding for Israel should be sought if Hamas agrees to a truce. It should also be known whether the Israeli security agency would comply with the commitments of the politicians. If the Israeli government was aware of this operation and agreed to it in advance, that would mean that Tel Aviv is not interested in a truce with the Gaza Strip, and that there are no guarantees for the continuation of the truce after reaching it, as Israel could breach it at the first sight of a Hamas leader it can reach.
Thirdly, the disregard for the Palestinian side and the Egyptian mediation, and the execution of this operation in this manner, including the military ground invasion, backed by air cover, would not have happened had it not been for the unprecedented wave of Arab normalisation with Israel. This includes the Gulf’s keenness to build free relations with Tel Aviv. Otherwise, why would Israel no longer care about the Egyptians’ anger and letting them down if the numerous channels in the Arab world were not open to it. Accordingly, any tension in the relations with Egypt and Jordan (traditional friends) could possibly be compensated for by relations with other Arab countries.
Fourthly, Israel definitely wanted to test Hamas’ military strength and also wanted to test its armed forces’ reaction after all of these years of siege imposed on the Gaza Strip. It seems that this test was important from an intelligence perspective for the Israelis before initiating a truce period. Perhaps Tel Aviv also wanted to conduct this test before making the decision to wage (or not to wage) a full-scale war on the Gaza Strip. In previous wars, Israeli forces’ estimates of Hamas’ strength were mostly wrong, and the previous three wars ended without results.
In summary, Israel suffered a new loss in this operation and although the operation’s target, the martyr Nur Baraka, was not known to the public, he was certainly an important man and Israel wanted him alive to obtain the information in his possession. Otherwise, it would not have engaged in this risk that almost ended in the capture of another Israeli officer if he hadn’t been killed on the spot. On the other hand, it is important to say that the free Arab normalisation with Israel and the Gulf moving towards Tel Aviv bears part of the responsibility for this Israeli arrogance.
This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Quds Al-Arabi on 12 November 2018
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.