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Hamas and the Art of War

28 July 2014, 09:52
I was driving to work the other morning listening to the radio. The well-known talk show host compared the current assault on Gaza by Israel to one of the previous Homelands being invaded by the might of the apartheid SADF – and that it’s a totally unfair fight. 
Since when has war ever been a fair fight?
This made me wonder is the leaders of Hamas had read The Art of War written by Sun Tzu around the fifth centenary BC.  This incredible manual of warfare was translated into French in 1772 and into English a little over a century ago. This book has become widely studied by military strategists as well as business leaders because it’s still as relevant today as when it was first written.  It is said that during the Vietnam War, Vietcong officers were found to be able to quote entire passages by memory. We all know how incredibly successful they were in their conflict against the mighty United States.
The book is divided into 13 chapters, each one dealing with a different aspect of warfare. The first chapter deals with Laying Plans and The Calculations. This basically states that the chances of victory should be calculated considering different plans and that deviation from the selected plans will ensure failure. It also stresses that war is a very serious matter and should not be commenced without due consideration of the chances of success.
So – have Hamas leaders read The Art of War? If you consider the power of the Israeli armed forces and the weakness of the Hamas militia, then the first chapter certainly seems to have been skipped in Basic Military Strategy and Calculation 101. But are simple calculations of comparing over 1000 dead with 50 really the only measure of success? 
What does Hamas really wish to achieve? Well if you look at the Hamas' 1988 charter it states that Hamas "strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine". The Khartoum Resolution of September 1, 1967 at the conclusion of 1967 Arab League summit convened in the wake of the Six-Day War, in Khartoum presented the "Three No's": "no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it...". Hamas and its Arab partners, which include Iran who supplied the rocket technology Hamas is using, basically want Israel to cease to exist. 
The Israeli Defence Force possesses top-of-the-line weapons and computer systems. They are backed up with weapon technology from the United States. They have nuclear arms. Hamas will never beat them in the field. But they can beat Israel if the world joins them in condemning Israeli military action and calling for sanctions and cutting diplomatic ties with Israel. They can win if they isolate Israel from the rest of the world. They can win if they continue firing rockets from schools and hospitals from behind women and children and then show the results of the retaliation of the Israeli military of the civilian population to the world media. So maybe Sun Tzu missed a chapter on how to manipulate the world’s media in his writings, which is not surprising considering the concept of world media was unknown in the fifth century BC.
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