An Extended Ceasefire Would Help Hamas but Hurt Israelis and Gazans Alike

Pressure for an extended ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is building in the United States. Congresswoman Becca Balint (D-Vt.) has expressed in a newspaper op-ed the same idea which polls show growing in support — that both Israelis and Gazans have suffered enough and what is needed is “an immediate break in violence to allow for a true negotiated ceasefire.”

A ceasefire, except for a brief one that returns hostages, implicitly condemns Israel for defending itself. This is as strategically foolish as it is morally vacuous. A ceasefire opens the door to Hamas’s recovery and more of its savagery.

The stated objective of stalling ongoing operations is to allow for time to convince Hamas to release its more than 200 hostages and to deliver emergency resources to Gazan civilians. The implication is that these objectives are worth prolonging the conflict and allowing Hamas to regroup, which in reality will only increase both Israeli and Gazan casualties.

Whether these objectives are worth the implied costs is immaterial: The objectives themselves are chimerical. At best, Hamas will release only a portion of its hostages, its best source of leverage, perhaps by offering up a few dual-citizens or a small group — as it did when Washington was delaying the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF’s) initial ground response.

There is no reason to believe that what proved impossible in peace can now be done in war — a guarantee that emergency aid reaches Gazan civilians. That Hamas sits on a massive store of resources stolen from the billions of dollars of international aid seems to be of little consequence, as does the fact that prolonging the conflict only increases the suffering inflicted on Gaza’s population and delays reconstruction of local society and infrastructure. And the more pressure placed on Israel to end the war, the more likely the IDF will reconsider the deliberate approach it is taking in combat to limit casualties.

Beyond its detrimental impact on Gazans, a prolongation would increase the already considerable burden on Israel to support its mobilization and defend against rocket strikes from Hamas and skirmishes with Hezbollah. More important, it also increases the likelihood of a wider war.

Hezbollah, Iran’s most valuable proxy, has restrained its attacks to lightly held military posts and civilian spaces that it knows have already been evacuated, while its secretary-general, Hassan Nasrallah, offered a weak speech on Nov. 3 pinning responsibility solely on Hamas for the Oct. 7 attack on Israel. Iran knows it must make a show of support for ideological consistency, yet it has no intent to lose Hezbollah.

Read the rest at The Messenger.

Seth Cropsey is the founder and president of Yorktown Institute.

Austen Maggin is the COO of Yorktown Institute.

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