January 19th, 2009
01:42 PM ET

Who won?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/01/19/gaza.pullout.israel/art.gazatanks.afp.gi.jpg caption="Israeli tanks prepare to leave Gaza on Monday."]

Paula Hancocks
CNN International Correspondent

Amongst the devastation in Gaza and horrific pictures of dead bodies being pulled from destroyed buildings, the argument of "who won the war" has already begun.

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert insists his country’s military objective was achieved and more. Israeli soldiers are filmed leaving the Gaza strip smiling and giving the victory sign. The Israeli casualty figure was lower than feared and public support was strong throughout.

No Palestinian civilian in Gaza won anything. Even if they survived, their loved ones survived and their house is intact, they have been through 22 days of absolute hell.

But Hamas claimed victory on behalf of the Palsetinian people. Former Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh says "this is not a victory for one faction, party or region. It is a victory for all the nation. The whole nation contributed..."

Hamas' military wing went one step further, claiming fewer than 50 of its fighters were killed... hundreds less than Israel claims. And militants fired around twenty rockets into Israel after the Jewish state's ceasefire came into effect Sunday morning, just to prove they still could.

Israel has claimed a victory in securing an agreement with the United States, a memorandum of understanding to prevent future smuggling of arms to Hamas and Israel's military believes it has destroyed the majority of smuggling tunnels between Egypt and Gaza.

But the bar of success was low for Israel this time around following a perceived failed war against Hezbollah in Lebanon two and a half years ago. The official view, shared by many on the streets of Israel, is the power of deterrence has been restored.

Ari Shavit, Haaretz newspaper journalist believes there is another winner, "In the war between Israel and Hamas the winner is Egypt, the real winners in this war are the arab moderates." He says, " The Middle East is no longer about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as such... there is a greater conflict now between the moderates and the extremists."

Only a part of wars today are fought on the battlefield, or in this case in the crowded streets of Gaza, the rest is won or lost on television screens and through public perception. The vast majority of Israelis see this as a military success, but public approval of Israel's operation – even among its strongest allies – could be undermined by a disturbingly high Palestinian civilian death toll and misery inflicted on a far wider target than Hamas.

Filed under: Crisis in Gaza • Israel • Palestine
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Michael Ejodamen, Italy.

    however believe Hamas won does not know how to win wars. Before the israelis left Gaza ,they left with hundreds of Hamas fighters & so many dead .The only unfortunate thing they did is the innocent blood in their hands.

    January 19, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  2. MW Australia

    This is the ultimate no win situation. Its just a matter of keeping face, scoring points against the opposition and everyone else trying to keep the death toll down.

    January 19, 2009 at 3:12 pm |
  3. Jahnsen

    ... and we will never know the truth. By putting a gag on the journalists Israel has done just like any dictatorship or comunist country would do. Why have reporters remained so passive in the face of this? they should show their indignation and openly condemn Livni or Olmert for this behaviour.

    January 19, 2009 at 2:33 pm |
  4. tony

    The resisitance won! this proves that Israel can use its might to kill civilians but can never erase the right of palestinians to resist their illegal and brutal occupation.

    January 19, 2009 at 2:13 pm |
  5. Cindy

    Honestly I don't think that anyone won in this Gaza conflict! Israel was made to look bad for their overkill in bombing and also for bombing sites where civilians were and not Hamas. Hamas lost many of it's soldiers and did nothing to Israel. And the people of Gaza lost their towns which are torn to pieces. But most of all many innocent people died for nothing it seems.

    So I see it as a losing situation mainly for the Palestinians because they have to grieve the loss of their people plus try to rebuild their ravaged city.


    January 19, 2009 at 1:50 pm |