Upon being congratulated for defeating the Romans at Asculum in 279 b.c. during the Pyrrhic War, King Pyrrhus of Epirus, who had lost half of his army during the battle, said something to the effect of “Another victory like this, and we’re done for.” Hence the phrase “Pyrrhic victory,” which could probably be applied to what many Israelis regard as their “victory” over Hamas during the so-called Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.
And not unlike the Romans, who lost more men than Pyrrhus did, the Palestinian casualties—4,336 Gazans were wounded, and 1,284 killed (894 of them civilians)—were higher than those of the Israelis (10 soldiers and 3 civilians killed, and 512 wounded).
The Israeli government is boasting two important “achievements”: the end of the rocket attacks from Gaza into civilian areas in southern Israel; and the sealing of the Gaza-Egypt border, including the destruction of tunnels through which Hamas was able to smuggle weapons from Egypt into Gaza.
Moreover, Israeli officials insist that the large number of Palestinian casualties and the enormous destruction that Israel inflicted on the Gazans will deter Hamas and other anti-Israel movements and regimes in the region, including the Lebanese Hezbollah and its chief patrons, Syria and Iran.
However, Hamas leaders will maintain that Hamas’s survival as a political and...