THE BLOG
08/22/2014 12:25 pm ET Updated Oct 22, 2014

If Hamas Just Won a Victory, What Would a Defeat Look Like?

As six weeks of intense fighting interrupted by limited ceasefires come and go, Hamas, as in the earlier two wars with Israel (2009, 2012), has claimed victory. It points out triumphantly that it has survived an onslaught from a powerful Israeli military, surprised the Israelis with their sophisticated tunnels and won international support from the international "outrage" at Israel killing allegedly almost two thousand of their civilians. All this is true, particularly the fact that the Untied States, the United Nations, European countries and Third World countries often roundly criticized Israel for the extensive civilian casualties during the war.

But, does this constitute a "victory?" If this were a victory, then how to account for some disturbing facts about the outcome of the war?

Victors usually do not come up on the deep short end of vital battle statistics. Hamas fired over 3,300 rockets at Israel - and killed exactly three people, two Israelis and one Thai worker. And while Israel killed somewhere around 600-900 Hamas fighters, Hamas killed 65 Israeli soldiers: roughly a 10:1 ratio in Israel's favor.

Almost 80 percent of those Hamas rockets did not come close to hitting their supposed targets. And nearly 90 percent of the 700 rockets on a path to hit Israeli targets were eliminated by Iron Dome, Israel's state of the art anti-missile defense system developed with the United States. By contrast, probably close to 90 percent of 4,700 Israeli rockets hit their targets.

Hamas had built 32 vaunted tunnels, 14 of them under Israeli territory, at a cost of 100 million dollars. And where are they now at the end of this war? All blown up by the Israeli military.

There is a tremendous difference between the damage suffered by Israel and the damage suffered by Hamas. While Hamas' 3,300 rockets probably inflicted a few tens of millions of dollars of damage on Israel, Israel inflicted a staggering 6 billion dollars of damage on Hamas. Israel's damage amounted to less than .1 percent of its $240 billion economy, while the damaged suffered by Hamas is worth a staggering 400 percent of its $1.5 billion economy. Israel can replace the damages in less than a month; Hamas will need much of a decade. And while 25 percent of Gazans suffered direct damage from thousands of Israeli air strikes and hundreds, if not thousands, of artillery and mortar rounds and tank volleys, less than 1 percent of Israelis suffered any direct damage.

After the war, Hamas finds itself more isolated than ever in the Arab world. In an historic turnabout, key Arab Sunni states -- Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt , Jordan and even Fatah on the West Bank -- have for the first time ever preferred Jewish Israel to an Arab actor. Syria loathes Hamas for leaving Damascus (where its Politburo was stationed) and supporting the enemies of Bashar Assad. Iraqi Shiite leaders, more oriented towards fellow Shiite Iran, also are not moved by the plight of Sunni Hamas. And the diverse radical Islamic groups generally dislike Hamas for two other failings: its purely national (rather than international) focus and for, from their vantage point, its excessive "moderation."

In the Arab world only isolated but mega rich Qatar remains at the side of Hamas -- and it could not even carry out the earlier ceasefire it had promised the West. The other power, Turkey, is widely disliked as a non-Arab state that was the colonial power (Ottoman Turkey) of the Middle East for over 400 years.

Nor are the enemies of Hamas going to go away. Egypt and Israel, working together, control the borders of Hamas and are determined to keep it isolated. The United States, aghast at the use of human shields and rockets fired from cemeteries and schools and storing rockets in mosques and UN facilities, has shifted perceptibly from its originally more even-handed position. President Obama has said "I have no sympathy for Hamas" and Secretary of State John Kerry has called for a demilitarized Hamas.

Hamas has done something Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu could never do: solidify support against his archenemy Hamas in a wall that includes much of the Arab Middle East, the United States and quietly many of the key European powers.

If this were a Hamas victory, what would a defeat look like?