The miserable reality is that both sides lost much but one side can afford its losses and the other, can’t. Le’s consider Hamas: It has fired thousands of expensive rockets into Israel with only a few dead Israelis to show for it. It has seen many residents of Gaza, much property and many of its own fighters trashed in Israeli incursions. Israel in turn, has warded off the rockets and lost few people and little property. It seems very one-sided in favor of Israel.
But reality points out that Hamas doesn’t pay for either its munitions or Gazan people and property. Gulf oil money and Iranians fund the munitions and support the fighters; U.N. and Western aid subsidizes the people and property. Little Israel has to fund its own defense, with whatever aid the U.S. adds. (New Iron Dome rocket defenses were paid for by the U.S. recently, apparently against the wishes of the White House.) And Iranian supplied rockets are steadily becoming more effective and longer ranged. The Israeli Iron Dome defense has been effective against older designs of rockets but it is very expensive to operate and newer munitions will penetrate it increasingly.
So at the current ceasefire, we see Israel intact and Hamas, wounded. But Hamas is still there in Gaza, still runs the place and is still funded by oil money and free to rain more rockets on Israel in the future. Nothing on the ground has changed, and that is why Netanyahu is in trouble politically and why Hamas is claiming victory.
The Western world is returning to its normal, pre WWII antisemitism. Large anti-Israel demonstrations occurred in London and Paris; a partly Israeli-owned cargo ship could not land at Oakland in the U.S. as a result of demonstrators. The U.N. is leaning away from Israel and toward oil. The White House blocked a recent shipment of defensive rockets to Israel. And over time, that tiny country cannot hold off the entire Middle East alone; it simply lacks the resources.
Netanyahu well knows all this; he must balance the present against the future. His U.S. support is furious with him for the bad press full of dead babies from his Gaza venture and it will not tolerate finishing the job now. Not doing so leaves Israel increasingly vulnerable to an implacable enemy. Yet Israel needs its outside supporters. The Israeli Prime Minister is on a swaying tightrope over a fiery chasm in a high wind. Hamas is just doing business as usual, spending money and lives of others.
There is one joker in this deck of marked cards: The people of Gaza could tire of regular wars in their streets, toss Hamas out and settle with Israel. But that seems a long bet here. Prognosis: Israel will continue to win battles … until it loses the war.