In face of truce bids, Hamas’ Deif gives Gaza war fresh impetus, makes it a religious jihad

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
By Paul Martin
July 30, 2014

Despite the rush of diplomats and analysts declaring that a ceasefire in the Gaza fighting is imminent, the war refuses to end. Wednesday, July 30, the commander of Hamas’ military wing, Mohammed Deif gave the conflict fresh impetus by injecting a religious dimension that cannot be ignored.

The conflict was sparked essentially by the June 12 abduction and murder of the Israeli teens Gilad She-ar, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrach. Forty-nine days later the crisis is evolving into the longest and toughest of Israel’s wars, with the exception of its War of Independence.

As fierce as the fighting is on the battlefield, and as arduous the diplomatic wrangling, the emerging and largely overlooked jihadist element is the most troubling.

The wars raging in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq have demonstrated that armies bigger than the IDF – like the US military and a coalition of nearly all the NATO countries – were not able to end wars against Islamist fighters. This may be that, because of political machinations and self-interest, none of the statesmen and military commanders leading those wars ever sought a decisive end. They gave up on victory on the principle that “Modern wars have no winners.”
But Islamist religious and military leaders do not subscribe to this principle: The Afghan Taliban’s Omar Mullah, the Islamic State’s Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Hamas’ Deif all seek all-out victory over the enemy.

Deif did not leave this in doubt in the pre-recorded statement he released on June 30 from his hidden Gaza bunker.

“What the planes, artillery, and warships haven’t achieved, the defeated [Israeli] forces will not achieve in the field for, thanks be to Allah, they have become prey for the guns and ambushes of our jihad fighters,” promises Deif in the tape.

“IDF soldiers are facing soldiers who are eager for death and factions that are united,” Deif goes on. “The firm resolve of the Palestinian people will bring victory on the battlefield. The enemy is sending its soldiers to a certain holocaust.”

To Israel, this war has been primarily defensive as implied in its name, Operation Protective Edge. But for Hamas and perhaps a large portion of the Palestinian people, it is Mohammed Deif’s personal accounting with the Zionist enemy.

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