“As bad as it may sound, Benjamin Netanyahu’s political future depends on Hamas,” explained a senior Likud minister discussing the situation facing Israel’s prime minister. According to him, Netanyahu’s future depends on the near-term military capabilities and ambitions of the Hamas leadership and the way Israel responds to them. Over the course of our conversation, which took place the afternoon of Aug. 3, a siren pierced the Tel Aviv sky, reminding us of the complex challenges facing Netanyahu.
Less than a day earlier, on Saturday night, day 26 of Operation “Protective Edge,” Netanyahu once again stood behind the podium at the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv in an effort to etch a victory narrative in the minds of Israelis. He had slept very little in the past few weeks and signs of exhaustion were apparent on him, even when he spoke about Israel’s significant military achievement in uncovering Hamas’ network of attack tunnels or when he mentioned the heroism of Israel’s troops and the public’s resilience throughout the campaign. Yet, despite the wording of his comments, the lilt in his voice failed to relay the joy of victory or even any sense of relief as a just war drew to a close. What ended up emphasized instead was the severity of the situation, set against ongoing reports of sirens and rocket fire directed against Israel.