This crisis can be contained but it will take more than pressuring Hamas to come to ceasefire, or pressing Israel for restraint and an end to its current rules of engagement. The international community must set out a plan to securely relieve the blockade of Gaza, allowing consistent movement across the Rafah border. This can only take place with Egyptian agreement and security measures to assist Cairo and placate Jerusalem. Measures would include: a revised EU Border Assistance Mission to upgrade security systems for handling goods traffic; bolstering Cairo’s efforts to close tunnels used for moving weapons and smuggled goods; and regaining control of the Sinai. Similarly, reviving Palestinian reconciliation efforts could lead to more Palestinian Authority involvement in the management of Gaza, This could help tackle rocket fire from smaller militant groups, which Hamas is unwilling to proactively restrict.
Adam Hug is policy director at the Foreign Policy Centre.
Israel’s actions are as much psychological as physical. As well as striking at Hamas’s leadership and missile arsenal, the air war and the threat of a ground offensive aim to pressure Hamas to cease its rocket attacks. Israeli pressure is also aimed at Egypt, which has the ability to influence Hamas. Hamas also demands that Israel lift its blockade on Gaza and ceases targeted killings of its leadership. Israel will agree to neither, and will continue its military action until its goals are achieved. However, military action will not achieve a permanent cessation of hostilities. Only political resolve – which is nowhere in sight – could achieve that. The best that Israel can hope for is that this campaign buys a few years of relative calm before Hamas is emboldened to strike again at its hated enemy.
Richard Kemp is a former British Army commander and senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute.