NO ONE COULD HAVE PREDICTED THIS. Says Danny Rubinstein in Haaretz:

Israeli political sources said late last week that the aim of the military operations in the Gaza Strip and the detention of senior Hamas officials in the West Bank was to make clear to Hamas that the abduction of Corporal Gilad Shalit will be of no benefit to it. On the contrary - it will be harmful to the movement. This may be what will happen as time goes by, but in the meantime, the deteriorating security situation has considerably augmented Hamas' power.

Elsewhere in the paper, Avi Issacharoff reported that there is considerable Palestinian support for more kidnappings:

Of the 1,197 respondents from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, 66.8 percent expressed support for further kidnappings of Israeli civilians while 77.2 percent backed the Kerem Shalom tunnel operation and subsequent kidnapping of Israel Defense Forces Corporal Gilad Shalit.

Nonetheless, just 47.7 percent of those polled said they believed the Shalit affair would end positively for the Palestinian side.

That's a shockingly high level of optimism, when you think about it, given the unfolding disaster in Gaza -- and also a surprisingly high level of enthusiasm for further provocative actions by people who readily admit that they know better than to expect a positive result from the present one. Of course, consciously self-destructive behavior in the interest of hurting one's enemy is also the dynamic behind suicide bombings, which have found similarly high levels of support in polls of Palestinians, so plus ´┐Ża change and all that.

--Garance Franke-Ruta

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