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Hamas’ victory claims fizzle

An Israeli soldier lies ground as missiles are fired from an IrDome anti-missile statiNov. 15 near city Beer ShevIsrael.

An Israeli soldier lies on the ground as missiles are fired from an Iron Dome anti-missile station on Nov. 15 near the city of Beer Sheva, Israel. | Ilia Yefimovich~GETTY IMAGES

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Updated: December 28, 2012 6:15AM

Hamas claims to have emerged from the latest Gaza battle as the strongest voice of Palestinian aspirations, however debased those ambitions are by their genocidal roots. But any such political gain is offset by the stunning technological and military prowess demonstrated by Israel. The Jewish state deployed a missile-defense system that proved amazingly effective, and Israel’s pinpoint air attacks based on accurate intelligence wreaked punishing destruction on the terrorist command in the Gaza Strip with minimum civilian casualties.

That’s not to say this combat will produce different results than previous fighting — that is, achieve more than an indeterminate period of quiet while Hamas rearms for its next assault aimed at killing Israeli civilians.

Even the terms of the cease-fire seem vague, unresolved and subject to more negotiations. Israel reportedly would ease its border security measures and pull back but not end its sea blockade of Gaza in return for Egypt halting arms-smuggling into the strip.

The relaxing of border measures has been an ongoing project for Israel, one perhaps necessary from a public-relations standpoint to appease Europeans who never fail to wring their hands over hyped-up accounts about poor living conditions in Gaza while remaining blind to its terrorism.

Relying on Egypt to police the avenues of the arms traffic looks to be a bad bargain for Israel. Egypt is embroiled in political turmoil from President Mohamed Morsi’s power grab in stripping judicial oversight of his rule, a chaotic situation sure to divert Cairo’s attention from arms smuggling even if it were committed to halting the trafficking. There’s reason to doubt that. Morsi comes from the Muslim Brotherhood, which spawned Hamas. Despite Morsi’s role in brokering the Gaza cease-fire, a top Brotherhood leader attacked the truce and declared “jihad is obligatory” for Muslims.

Keep that message in mind as you hear about a “moderate” branch of Hamas more interested in governing Gaza than in attacking Israel. The death of Israel is the fundamental creed and raison d’être for Hamas. The terrorist group is basking in what it sees as the tide of Arab history going its way with Islamists gaining power across the region.

But in its Iron Dome missile defense, developed with the encouragement and financial support of President Barack Obama, Israel developed a formidable shield to the short-range missiles of Hamas. In a matter of seconds, Iron Dome detects a rocket launch, determines if its trajectory threatens a populated area and, if so, shoots it down. The system had an 84 percent success rate — testimony to the wisdom of Ronald Reagan in pushing missile defense despite the “Star Wars” derision of his critics. In a test the other day, the new David’s Sling system intercepted a medium-range rocket.

Still, rockets remain a threat. While Hamas had thousands of missiles, Hezbollah in Lebanon controls tens of thousands. In a confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program, Israel would face the added threat of Tehran’s long-range rockets. The worry is that so many weapons could overwhelm its defenses.

Yet, terrorists likely lack the wherewithal for that kind of attack. And as Israel’s “Pillar of Defense” operation in Gaza ably demonstrated, a combined strategy of missile defense to knock down incoming rockets and superior air power to blast away missile arsenals and launchers is a deadly one-two punch against terrorists. It was punishment Hamas should remember as it plots new terrorist atrocities.

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