The casualties—most of them civilians—are appalling, but Hamas still sees itself coming out the winner in Israel’s devastating Gaza offensive, Time reports. In a war of “perception,” write Jamil Hamad and Tony Karon, Hamas is reaping sympathy from the wide distribution of images of suffering and destruction. And Hamas seems to be keeping many of its fighters out of the path of the Israelis, rather than being drawn into battles that would take a heavy toll.
Israel hopes to embolden Arab moderates by weakening Hamas; instead, it may be encouraging the outside world to side increasingly with the extremists. “Even leaders who had initially blamed Hamas for the crisis have been forced to revert to boilerplate denunciations of Israel,” write Hamad and Karon. And the public perception of success—or failure—may have repercussions for Israeli leaders at home in February’s election.