As Tel Aviv boasts great success in smashing Hamas in the latest military operation against the group in the Gaza Strip, it is actually Hamas that should be celebrating, Israel's Reserve Brigadier General Asaf Agmon suggested in an interview with Ha'aretz newspaper. The former military chief pointed out that, despite being pommelled for days by the IDF Air Force, the Gaza-based group actually won more in this conflict than Tel Aviv.
According to Agmon, the daring attack against Israel with thousands of rockets brought Hamas to the "top agenda" at the moment when Tel Aviv and other countries started to believe that the group had been dealt with.
"Now, Hamas is seen as the central leader among the Palestinians, even in the West Bank and the countries in the Middle East. We made it the main factor in the conflicts in the territories of the Palestinian Authority, first and foremost in Jerusalem," the former serviceman said.
Hamas' massive attack against Israel also came ahead of the general election on the territories of the Palestinian Authority announced by Mahmoud Abbas. Although the date of the election remains unclear, Hamas, which also engages in political activities, will likely seek to strengthen its position not only in Gaza but also in the West Bank.
The group regained its prominence even in the minds of Israelis after the last round of attacks, which started on 10 May and ended 10 days later with a ceasefire, Agmon noted. He added that previously Israeli citizens believed that Hamas was beaten, but in fact it has been growing in power.
The ex-brigadier general believes that it is important for Tel Aviv to understand how its own assessments of the group were mistaken, instead of giving themselves a round of applause which will only drive Israel forward on the wrong path, Agmon stressed.
"What happened was not a draw, but a loss that they are trying to sell to us as an achievement. The worst thing is that it makes us ignore the setbacks and not learn lessons. This leads us to a major defeat in a multi-battlefield war," Agmon said.
The ex-military's comments come in the wake of Israel agreeing to a cease-fire with Hamas after 10 days of exchanging fire that claimed the lives of 12 Israelis and more than 200 Palestinians. The latter were killed in the retaliatory IDF airstrikes. Tel Aviv claimed to have targeted Hamas' leadership and the system of underground tunnels.
However, Israeli airstrikes resulted in significant civilian casualties, including 60 children. The IDF blames Hamas for the high civilian body count citing the alleged practice of using innocents as human shields.