World Citizen: Hamas Disappoints its Backers

World Citizen: Hamas Disappoints its Backers

The war between Israel and Hamas has sparked much hand-wringing, disagreement, and controversy. One aspect of the conflict, however, now appears beyond dispute: After almost three weeks of fighting in the Gaza Strip, Hamas militias have proven astonishingly unimpressive on the battleground.

For Hamas' allies and backers in places like Tehran and Damascus, and among like-minded militants such as Hezbollah, it's difficult to imagine anything but disappointment at the performance of the Palestinian Islamist force that had so thoroughly routed Fatah, its Palestinian rivals, only 18 months ago.

There was never any reasonable expectation that Hamas would defeat the much larger and better armed Israeli Defense Forces. Still, the experience of the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel showed that a well-trained militia, intensely motivated by its religious zeal and willingness -- even eagerness -- to die in combat, could still be a tough opponent for a conventional military machine such as Israel's. For years, as rockets fired from Gaza rained upon civilians, Israeli military planners had feared plunging into large-scale urban combat in the tightly packed streets of Gaza. The Israeli public does not accept military casualties lightly, and the experience of Lebanon showed that militias can inflict heavy loss of life.

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