Is There a Way for the Gaza War to Stop Without a Cease-Fire?

How It Works
July 30 2014 3:34 PM

When Can Israel Just Declare Victory?

Nic6356420
An Israeli artillery gun fires a 155 mm shell toward targets in the Gaza Strip on July 30, 2014.

Photo by Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images

I've written a couple of posts already about why all the international calls for a cease-fire in Gaza haven’t yet borne fruit—it’s mainly because the two sides doing the fighting have irreconcilable goals and are under little domestic pressure to stop—but is there any scenario in which the bloodshed, at least this round of it, could end without an internationally negotiated cease-fire?

Joshua Keating Joshua Keating

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

The head of the IDF’s Southern Command, Sami Turgeman (yes, this is just “one Israeli official”), says that Israeli forces  are“days away” from accomplishing their primary military goal of destroying Hamas’ tunnel complexes and have killed “many hundreds” of Hamas operatives. Israeli warplanes have already destroyed “the home of the top Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh …the offices of the movement's Al-Aqsa satellite TV station, a central mosque in Gaza City and government offices.”

Advertisement

Some members of the Israeli security Cabinet may support a long-term reoccupation of Gaza, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu probably isn’t one of them. There’s little public pressure in Israel to end the operation or accept an internationally proposed cease-fire, but it’s conceivable that things might be different if Netanyahu simply declared that Israel’s vaguely defined military goals had been accomplished and unilaterally pulled back Israeli troops.

An Associated Press analysis dismisses this scenario, saying, “Hamas has put Gazans through so much that they certainly feel they must have something to show for their efforts in the form of an easing of the blockade. Rocket fire would continue and the hostilities would swiftly resume.”

Perhaps, but Hamas has killed far more Israelis in combat in Gaza than with rockets in Israel. If Israel pulled its troops out and Hamas continued impotently shooting rockets into the Iron Dome, the crisis in Gaza would fade from international attention pretty quickly, and efforts to lift the blockade along with it. It might be more prudent for Hamas to simply declare its own victory on the basis that it withstood the full might of the IDF and never surrendered.

This scenario, of course, wouldn’t address the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza or prevent violence from flaring up again in the future. And it certainly feels like a long shot at the moment. But compared with the alternative—the U.S., Egypt, Qatar, Turkey, the Palestinian Authority, and whoever else finally getting on the same page to establish a framework under which Israel and Hamas would agree to terms they’ve thus far found utterly unacceptable—it feels at the moment like the more likely way for this to finally end.

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

The World’s Politest Protesters

The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The Fashion World Has Made “Feminist” a Meaningless Label

The Feds Have Declared War on New Privacy Measures From Apple and Google

These “Dark” Lego Masterpieces Are Delightful and Evocative

Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 6:39 PM Spoiler Special: Transparent
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?