from The Middle East Papers --
The fact that Khaled Meshal and Hamas attempted the same tactic that brought disaster to Nasrallah and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, suggests that maybe neither leadership is quite as competent as they have led everyone to believe?
Saturday, 10 January 2009 20:41 Yisrael Ne'eman
The old adage that one can plan how to begin a war but where it ends, nobody knows, is particularly pertinent to Hamas. Khaled Mashal who heads the organization's political office in Damascus was in Cairo this week to begin arranging a cease-fire with Israel. He is reported to have remarked that Hamas' shelling of Israel from the end of the tahadiya (calm) on Dec. 19 until the Israeli aerial bombardment on the 27th was only meant to pressure Israel into accepting Hamas demands – in particular concerning the crossing points, but were not meant to bring about a full scale conflict.
Certainly one can doubt his claim. To end the blockade and obtain access to the outside world Hamas only needed to stop all rocket fire and the crossings would be opened under the international and Israeli supervision agreed upon with the Palestinian Authority. To start gaining legitimacy and get off terror lists in Europe and North America further opportunities included allowing back the PA security forces and administration they expelled during the Gaza civil war of June 2007 and the facilitation of the exchange of prisoners - Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit for hundreds of Hamas militants/terrorists. Furthermore, the declaration and implementation of an economic development program in conjunction with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and Fatah would go a long way in securing Western and other international financing for industry and modern port facilities in Gaza City. Instead Hamas chose a "limited conflict" which veered out of control after hundreds of rockets were dropped on Israel over a two week period (begun even before the tahadiya was over).