Gaza, a war without a winner

Even before bombs fell silent in Gaza due to the permanent ceasefire, politicians and pundits started to look for a winner. There was not any kind of consent. Some argued that the victory belonged to Hamas, others that Israel was the real winner. And there were even some, especially in Egypt, who pointed to raïs al Sisi. I suspect some of these assessments were rather the result of wishes than analysis.  From my point of view, this was a war without a winner. And this is why:

-Hamas: A few minutes after the announcement of the ceasefire, one of Hamas negotiators, Ezzat el-Rasheq sent a tweet with a single word “victorious”. But it is hard to agree. It is true that Hamas resisted the offensive of Israel, and that it never seemed to be running out of rockets or fighters. In addition, it was able to disrupt the functioning of Tel Aviv’s airport. However, it has not achieved (yet?) its alleged main objective: the complete lifting of the embargo against Gaza. And what is more, it had to accept that the guards from the Palestinian National Authority, under the control of Mahmud Abbas, are the ones monitoring the crossings with Israel and Egypt.

Israel: Primer Minister Netanyahu and his ministers gave different objectives to their operation Protective Edge at different times. None of them was achieved. Hamas was not destroyed, neither was its capacity to throw rockets at Israel or all the tunnels into Israel. In addition, it does not seem that Israel increased its capacity of deterrence. According to reports and polls, most Gazans supported the launching of rockets at Israel although they knew the response would be harsh. It is true that the Army was able to kill a few Hamas commanders, destroyed many tunnels and got the Abba’s guards to monitor the crossings, but all that seems a small reward for the price it payed, both in terms of soldiers lives and funds spent.

Al Sisi: The president of Egypt may have achieved some of his aims: to broker the ceasefire deal between the warring sides and keep his foes away from the negotiations-I’m thinking of Qatar and Turkey, of course-. However, the other goal, the battering of Hamas, seems more uncertain, as explained above. Not only that, after snubbing Hamas in his first ceasefire proposal, Egypt had to accept its central role in the negotiations. Their representative met with the director of the Egyptian Intelligence services, which amounts to an important recognition to a group deemed “terrorist” in Egyptian courts. As for the other two objectives mentioned above, were not especially ambitious. Egypt already had this role in the past, and it was difficult to see who could have stolen it. The most populous Arab State is the only one capable of talking to both sides, plus it has a border with Gaza. Israel would have never accepted to replace Egypt with Qatar or Turkey. Not now, not after the souring of relations with both countries in the last years. Therefore, the so-called al Sisi victory was like scoring a goal against an adversary that has no goalkeeper.

There are no winners in the battlefield, and I doubt that they will emerge in the negotiations that will take place next month. But I can easily distinguish a loser: the people from Gaza, who suffered a harsh bombing and paid with more than 2.000 lives, more than 10,000 injured, and with the destruction of thousands of houses other infrastructure. One can argue that wars are always senseless, that the achievements are never worth the destruction and pain provoked. This thought was never truer than in Gaza, which seems in its way to a situation pretty close to the status quo before July. Really sad.

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