As the onslaught progresses, officials are more confident of “changing the equation” in Gaza and are predicting the collapse of the Hamas administration…
The head of the Shin Bet internal security service, Yuval Diskin, told the Israeli cabinet that Hamas was finding it increasingly difficult to govern with its leadership in hiding from Israeli rockets and much of its infrastructure blown to pieces.
He was backed by the chief of the general staff, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, who said “not much” remained of the Hamas government, and by the head of military intelligence, Major General Amos Yadlin. “Hamas has absorbed a very hard blow…
Diana Buttu, a Palestinian negotiator involved in talks with Israel over its 2005 withdrawal of settlers from Gaza, said the Israeli assault had strengthened short-term solidarity with Hamas, but was likely to have weakened the group politically.
“People in Gaza are under assault right now so they’re going to support Hamas. But when the dust settles I think we’ll get a very different perspective, a lot of questioning about whether Hamas has the right strategy. Not so much blaming Hamas for the onslaught but more questioning of whether Hamas is taking us in the right direction,” she said.
Olmert insists they’re not trying to get rid of Hamas, but just in case, European leaders are scrambling to put together a settlement that would place international monitors on the Egyptian border to watch for weapons smuggling. See Anne Applebaum, among others, for why that means little more than kicking the can down the road. Quote: “Further negotiations will make sense only when Hamas’ leadership — currently emboldened by a combination of popular indignation and Iranian support — finally arrives at the same conclusion as its secular counterparts [that Israel can’t be eliminated], and a new generation of Israelis is again convinced to believe them.”
Here’s The One once again voting present on the subject this afternoon, supposedly in the interest of not stepping on Bush’s toes even though his thinking matters a lot more to Israel’s timeline now than Dubya’s does.