How Far Does Israel Go? Each Answer Carries Risks

If group falls, Jewish state may be responsible for problematic Gaza
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2009 5:44 PM CST
Israel infantry soldiers gather on the border just before leaving Israel for the northern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Jan. 3, 2009.   (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
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(Newser) – The ground offensive against Hamas raises all kinds of vexing questions for Israel, writes Ethan Bronner in the New York Times. Perhaps the biggest is this: When the smoke clears, who's going to be in charge of Gaza? If Israel sticks to a limited military aim of knocking out Hamas' rocket-firing sites and then pulls back, Hamas will emerge the symbolic winner. But if Israel goes further and removes Hamas from power, a huge void opens in the volatile territory.

Who would govern it? Hardly anyone think it's realistic that Israel could occupy Gaza again after three years, Bronner writes, and Fatah is too weak and disorganized to step in. "The likelier result of a destruction of the Hamas infrastructure, then, would be chaos, anathema not only to the people of Gaza but also to those hoping for peace in southern Israel."