June 25, 2024

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The Hostage Deal Means Israel Is Fighting the Clock

2 min read

With a four-day cease-fire reportedly going into effect Friday, time isn’t on Israel’s side in its war with Hamas in Gaza. Israel already faces challenges unprecedented in the history of war. A terrorist enemy dedicated to its destruction holds hundreds of hostages in a complex tunnel network and uses civilians as human shields. Israeli society, already riven by political infighting, is traumatized by Hamas’s Oct. 7 assault and divided over how to handle the hostage crisis. Further cease-fires mean the recovery of more hostages, but this will slow and eventually halt Israel’s effort to break Hamas’s control over Gaza. That would be a strategic defeat for both Israel and the U.S.

Israel needs time to root out Hamas. But the longer the war goes on, the likelier it is to spiral into a regional conflict drawing in the U.S. Since Oct. 17, Iranian-supplied militias have hit U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria with more than 60 rocket attacks. If a rocket or drone kills American troops, the Biden administration will face a crisis of its own. It could either retaliate against Iran and risk unpredictable military, economic and electoral consequences, or retreat from the Mideast, abandoning Israel and ceding a crucial region in the U.S.’s great-power struggle with China.

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2023-11-22 18:22:00

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