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But fighting to achieve deterrence is a nebulous goal without clear indicators of success.
Though the first Gaza war ended with a cease-fire with Israel holding the upper hand military, eventually those gains were eroded by international criticism of the civilian toll in Gaza. Within a year, Israel’s deterrence began eroding as militant groups resumed cross-border attacks that were tolerated by the Israeli government.
The 2006 war with Hezbollah ended in a draw and a symbolic victory for the Shiite militants, but the cease-fire has endured for six years despite a Hezbollah weapons build up.
"It is ironic and not easy to explain,’’ says Yossi Alpher, a past adviser to former Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
To achieve long-term deterrence, Israel might focus on destroying Hamas strategic assets like weapons smuggling tunnels, though that would require a ground invasion. Others suggest that Israel should focus on hunting Hamas’ leadership – both political and military leaders – and forcing them underground as the country did with Hezbollah.
"Hezbollah is deterred in large part because [Sheikh Hassan] Nassralah fears an Israeli strike, and spends most of his time in hiding," says Gerald Steinberg, a professor at Bar Ilan University. "This projects weakness – Israel will seek a similar situation with Hamas.’’