Sieges existed in history ever since the first earth berm was constructed around a village. Countless treatises were written on how to besiege a village, a town, a city, a fortified military base. There are as many varieties of sieges as there are recipes for hummus in Israel, but they all share two fundamental characteristics: the defensive fortifications are erected by the besieged and the goal of the besiegers is to occupy, at least temporarily, the real estate within these fortifications. Simply put, it is the goal of the besieged to be left alone and the goal of the besiegers to mess with them. One can say with certainly that the necessary condition for a military operation to be called a siege is that the fortifications are the property of the besieged, with the sufficient condition being the strong desire by the besiegers to gain entry into said property, fortifications notwithstanding.
Neither one of these conditions exists around the Gaza strip if, as the Hamas propaganda would have you believe, Gazans are the besieged and Israelis are the besiegers. The security fence along the internationally recognized border between Gaza and Israel was erected by Israel and belongs to it exclusively. Furthermore, no Israeli who is not certifiably insane wishes to gain entry into the hell on Earth known as Gaza for many reasons, not the least of which that he or she would “enjoy” a lifespan significantly shorter than that of an ice cube in the crater of an active volcano. So what is the real situation between Israel and Gaza? Well, as we have just mentioned, there is indeed a defensive fortification, which was erected by Israel. Furthermore, the government of Gaza, the Hamas movement, is determined to invade Israel, slaughter or expel its Jewish citizens, and establish its own rule over its territory . In other words, Gazans want to invade Israel, which in turn erected a defensive barrier to stop them from accomplishing their goal. Hence, by any definition possible, it is Gaza that is besieging Israel and certainly not the other way around.
As sieges go, the Gazan siege of Israel falls well within historical norms. In their prosecution of the siege, Gazans first line of attack are ballistic projectiles that can get over Israel’s fortifications and diminish the will of the Israelis to defend themselves by inflicting indiscriminate civilian casualties. The fact that the projectiles are missiles or mortar shells rather than large granite boulders launched from a trebuchet is only a minor technical difference. Another weapon commonly used by besiegers are incendiary projectiles meant to set fire to the property of the besieged. This too is commonly utilized by the Hamas in the shape of incendiary kites and balloons. Moving further down the list of siege tactics across the ages, we come to the art of MINING or UNDERMINING. This involves the surreptitious digging of tunnels under the fortifications from the territory of the besiegers to the territory of the besieged. The purpose of the tunnels is twofold: they can be used to place explosives (mines) under the fortifications in the attempt to create a breach, or they can be used to deliver undetected military personnel across the fortified barrier for reconnaissance or terror purposes. Countless sieges in history involved mining and counter-mining operations and the Gazan siege on Israel is no exception. Next, comes the ambush. In prolonged siege situations, defenders become a little nonchalant, a bit careless. After all most of the time nothing happens. This creates a golden opportunity by the besiegers to ambush a small unit of the defenders that wasn’t paying due attention. The Gazans had a tremendous success with this strategy a few years back when they ambushed an Israeli tank just inside the defensive perimeter, i.e. in Israel and killed the entire crew save for one hapless soldier who allowed himself to be taken without a fight, only to be redeemed years later for many Arab murderers who were justly rotting in Israeli prisons. Finally we come to the oldie but goodie, the most fundamental weapon of the attackers, the TAKING BY STORM. This involves simply rushing the wall or the fence, trying to overwhelm the defenders and gain entry into the real estate they are trying to defend. This too has been tried by Hamas and lately on nearly a weekly basis.
All this being said, there is ONE interesting difference between sieges in history and the one Hamas is perpetrating against Israel; historically, sieges usually have some, albeit sometimes small, chance of success. This is not the case here. Gaza has zero chance of achieving its goal of occupying Israel and slaughtering its Jewish citizens. The harm they cause Israel in the economic and public relations arenas is negligible to nonexistent as demonstrated by Israel’s strong export-based economy, record-breaking foreign tourism, and historic diplomatic successes, including in the Arab and Muslim world. Israeli morale is not weakened and Israeli men and women are, though with sadness, willing to do whatever it takes to defend their country and their lives. In fact, it could be argued that Hamas has helped Israeli economy, and quite significantly at that. The constant rocket attacks on Israeli civilian population led to the development of Iron Dome, a highly successful and sought after short-range missile defense system. The tunnel digging threat led to the development of as yet classified measures to detect such tunnels, technology that will undoubtedly prove to be a huge boon to Israel as an export item once Israel is ready to share it with the world.
So what is Hamas doing? Are they insane? Irrational? Not at all. They simply made their siege of Israel into a racket. People who are naive or driven by ulterior motives were predicting that Gaza would become the Hong Kong of the Middle East, or at least an Abu Dhabi, which after all is not much larger. But that would require a reorientation away from never-ending conflict with Israel, a conflict that has made many people on the Arab side very rich indeed. Who needs hard work when you can force your own citizens at gunpoint to dig tunnels or “march” on a well-defended barrier, the crossing of which means certain death. Of course doing so makes Muslim Arabs look like zombies from hell, which is rather cringe worthy for other Muslim Arabs who are trying to foster an altogether different image for themselves.
And so folks this is it. The crux of the matter. And again, it’s as old as time itself. It is a protection racket pure and simple. Hamas tells the Muslim world that unless it gets paid $15 million per month via suitcases of unmarked bills, it will make them look super bad. And so they pay. Using the unsavory Qatar as the banker and the reluctant Israel as a courier, the Arab Muslim countries pay Hamas to abstain from making them look worse than the Mongol Horde.
Every successful blackmailer always wants to up the ante, after all, why not? So these days Hamas has been acting up even when paid. Clearly, they want more. Israel, wishing to avoid the bigger of two evils as in paying Hamas to attack it rather than not attack it, is withholding the cash. Hamas is gearing up for the resumption of border violence. Egypt is trying to talk them out of it, but these talks will fail, Hamas will attack, Israel will defend, Gazans will die, Israeli fields and groves with many a poor turtle will burn, Egypt will offer them more cash and things will return to “normal” until the next time around.
Of course, there is another solution. If Arab countries on the Arabian Peninsula make formal peace with Israel, if Lebanon and Syria follow suit, if the Sultan wannabe in Ankara returns to his senses, Hamas will vanish like a genie from hell going back into his lamp. If…