Israel’s Failed Bombing Campaign in Gaza: Collective Punishment Won’t Defeat Hamas Foreign Affairs
Robert A. Pape  |  December 6, 2023

Whatever the ultimate goal, Israel’s collective devastation of Gaza raises deep moral problems. But even judged purely in strategic terms, Israel’s approach is doomed to failure—and indeed, it is already failing. Mass civilian punishment has not convinced Gaza’s residents to stop supporting Hamas. To the contrary, it has only heightened resentment among Palestinians. Nor has the campaign succeeded in dismantling the group ostensibly being targeted. Fifty-plus days of war show that while Israel can demolish Gaza, it cannot destroy Hamas. In fact, the group may be stronger now than it was before. In the long run, the only way to defeat Hamas is to drive a political wedge between it and the Palestinian people. Unilateral Israeli steps signaling a serious commitment to a new future would decidedly change the framework and dynamics in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship and give Palestinians a genuine alternative to simply supporting Hamas and violence. Israelis, for their part, would be more secure, and the two parties would at long last be on a path toward peace.