by Lu Jiafei
GAZA, July 9 (Xinhua) -- Operation Protective Edge, launched on Tuesday, shows Israel's determination to get tough on Hamas just as Operation Cast Lead in 2008 and Pillar of Defence in 2012 did. However, the latest Israeli military move also indicates its either ignorance or unwillingness to accept the fact that the issue can only be solved politically.
Shortly after its disengagement from Gaza in 2005, Israel started its odyssey of preventing rocket fire from the Hamas- governed Gaza into southern Israel. It seems that military action becomes the top and the only weapon in Israeli arsenal against Hamas. Unfortunately, this weapon is blunt.
Consider the most favored scenario after the assault: Israel establishes calm for a while by destroying Hamas's rockets and killing the leaders. However, new rockets can still be bought or built, and new generation of Hamas leaders will emerge.
Thus, the current military action is doomed to turn into a replica of the previous assaults, which at best will only buy Israel another couple of years of calm in the south, a bill heavily paid by Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
What Israel should do, instead, is pounding Hamas politically. It mainly requires boosting Hamas' main rival, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian National Authority's ( PNA) stance on nonviolent path to statehood.
Sadly, things are not working out properly in this respect. Despite PNA's commitment to security cooperation with Israel and Abbs's public recognition of Israel's right to exist, the Israeli government continues to weaken its Palestinian counterpart by Jewish settlement expansion, eroding more and more land upon which an independent and contiguous Palestinian state may be established, and along with it the Palestinian public confidence in nonviolent struggle.
During the 9-month peace talks under the auspices of America, the Israeli government promoted plans and tenders for at least 13, 851 housing units in West Bank and East Jerusalem, four times higher compared to the equivalent time of previous years, according to Israeli watchdog group Peace Now.
Thus, the results of a June poll by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research came out with no surprise. According to the survey, 42 percent of Palestinians believe that Hamas' way is the best way to end occupation and establish a state while 39 percent of Palestinians believe Abbas' way is the best way.
Meanwhile, although an increasing number of Palestinians support two-state solution, 61 percent of them believe that it is no longer practical due to the settlement expansion.
If Israel really wants to defeat Hamas, it would realize how serious negotiations towards a contiguous Palestinian state, as most Palestinians still support such an outcome, would politically marginalize Hamas who opposes it.
While it might be impossible to militarily "put an end of this once and for all," as promised by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, weakening Hamas politically seems a viable and possibly only option for Israel.
However, winning this hard-fought battle externally requires taking a hard line against the internal pressure for settlement expansion. And at the end of the day, Israel is likely to lose on both fronts.