An Israel Think Tank report issued on Thursday describes how Hamas has built up a powerful fighting force that will confront any Israel invasion of the Gaza Strip. The Inteligence and Terrorism Information center believes Hamas now controls about 20,000 well-armed men who are prepared to fight until death. Hamas military capabilities are based on the Izzedin al-Kassam Brigades, the group’s military arm. The Hamas strategy should Israel invade would be avoiding any fighting in open areas and compel Israel troops to fight them in urban areas where guerrilla warfare is more effective.
The assumption of Hamas is that Israel has not learned anything from its Lebanon experience. In all likelihood, Israel forces will avoid getting sucked into a bloody street fight with Hamas. Most probably, the IDF will resort to bombing attacks which will result in the death of thousands of innocent civilians.
The scenario of death can be replaced with a scenario of peace It is now imperative for the Bush administration to shift emphasis from refusing contact with Hamas to a Middle Eastern conference in which Israel takes the first step by announcing an end to further housing construction on the West Bank or in East Jerusalem.