EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Creating deterrence was Israel’s goal in the last three conflicts it fought against Hamas, but that objective has been cast aside. Any future armed clash with Gaza’s Islamist rulers will be guided by a new Israeli objective: that of achieving a crystal clear victory over the enemy.
In past models of conflict, Israel responded to Hamas aggression through the use of force in a way that was designed to punish Hamas and convince it to return to a state of calm. Systematically destroying Hamas’s military capabilities was not an Israeli objective.
Today, while Israel hopes to avoid war, it is preparing for the possibility of a new conflict. War could erupt again in Gaza for a wide range of reasons.
Should hostilities resume, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) plans to make sure the end stage of that clash will be an unmistakable Israeli victory, and that no one will be able to mistake it for a tie or stalemate.
This change in approach has been brewing over the past three years, ever since the end of Operation Protective Edge in 2014. That operation was launched by Israel to defend itself against large-scale projectile attacks and cross-border tunnel threats from Gaza. At two months’ duration, it was one of Israel’s most protracted conflicts.
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