Israel should start assassinating the leaders of Hamas until the boys are returned.
Hamas knows very well that the kidnapping of the three Israeli teens is not a tactical incident like firing Qassam rockets, but a pivotal strategic incident which Israel sees as a reason for war.
There is a possibility that the organization has chosen to adopt al-Qaeda’s working method: Encouraging independent actions from the ground, which work according to instructions from the top but are difficult to prevent. Sometimes, as a result, the acts are authorized and responsibility is taken only after they are committed.
In the wake of the abduction, Israel faces a complicated and challenging test. From a broad, strategic perspective, I’m not sure that what Israel needs right now is a sweeping act of revenge in a military operation against Hamas in Gaza, as some people have called for.
There is no question about whether or not we should target Hamas’ military infrastructures, the terrorists who kidnapped the teens and their messengers. Israel must settle the score with them, both for the sake of justice and in order to create deterrence against future abductions.
But expanding the response against the organization should be more calculated.
The alternatives: At a time when al-Qaeda is gaining momentum in the region, conquering large parts of Iraq and in fact controlling the area from Aleppo in Syria to the area north of Baghdad – and threatening to expand to Jordan as well – Israel should take into account that destroying Hamas will not create a void filled by the Palestinian Authority but rather a space usurped by al-Qaeda. For when a radical organization falls, it is usually replaced by an even more exteme one.
The reconciliation: In a scenario in which Israel manages to get Fatah to cancel its agreement with Hamas, the latter – which will lose its political legitimacy – will be pushed into a corner and reinstate itself as a terror organization operating from Gaza against southern Israeli communities. We can already see first signs of this in the recent drizzle of rockets fired from Gaza.
The offensive: The possibility of a wide-scale Israeli military operation on the eve of Ramadan, one which was not coordinated with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, could spark a third intifada, given that an escalation on the ground has been brewing for quite a long time now.