Israeli Gains in Gaza Are Elusive

Amid tenuous ceasefire, officials wonder if they have weakened Hamas
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 19, 2009 7:10 AM CST
An Israeli soldier carries his equipment on a road next to the Israel-Gaza border, Monday Jan. 19, 2009.   (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
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(Newser) – As the world waits to see whether the truce declared this weekend in Gaza will hold, Israelis are asking themselves just what the 3 weeks of vicious fighting has achieved. There is hope that damage to tunnels may prevent Hamas from rearming and resuming firing rockets across the border, at least at the previous volume. But Hamas remains in power in Gaza, writes Ethan Bronner in the New York Times, and the attacks don't appear to have succeeded in driving a wedge between the group and Gazans.

The irony of the war, writes Bronner, is that Israel's well-trained, well-equipped army led a wild attack, while Hamas, dismissed by opponents as a death cult, showed reluctance to fight and often retreated while Israel advanced. Now, although Gaza is decimated, Hamas's membership remains robust—and the population of Gaza harbors even more anti-Israel sentiment. "A guy whose child has just been killed doesn’t want peace," said one Gazan, who normally supports Fatah. "He wants war."