Whatever dubious strategic goal might have been behind Hamas' ill-advised decision to goad Israel into war last month, there is no doubt that the jihadists have endured a severe, and well-deserved, thumping. With a greatly diminished terror infrastructure, a shrunken inventory of rockets and tunnels, hundreds of dead terrorists and its leadership in hiding, Hamas has little to show for the violence that it provoked.
Nonetheless, there is one significant achievement, albeit unintended, that the gangsters of Gaza have to show for themselves: Hamas has put the final nail in the coffin of the so-called two-state solution. Ironically, the subterranean shafts they burrowed underground, and the multiple explosive projectiles they hurled at Israel, have all but toppled any chance that a Palestinian state will ever arise in Judea and Samaria.
For through its actions, Hamas has underlined for the Israeli public in stark terms the dangers of abandoning territory to Palestinian control, wiping away many of the illusions that have been promoted by the Left since the 1993 Oslo accords.
Indeed, none other than Harvard law professor Alan M. Dershowitz, who has long supported the establishment of a Palestinian state, acknowledged as much in a July 22 article that he penned for the Gatestone Institute.
"Hamas's decision to fire rockets in the direction of Ben-Gurion Airport," Dershowitz wrote, "may well have ended any real prospect of a two-state solution."
"Israel," he noted, "will now be more reluctant than ever to give up military control over the West Bank, which is even closer to Ben-Gurion Airport than is Gaza."
And since an Israeli military withdrawal from Judea and Samaria could pave the way for a Hamas takeover, just as it did in the 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip, the public will be loathe to accept the possibility of any such pull-out.
Furthermore, through its aggressive use of mortar and rocket fire, Hamas has made life unbearable for those Israelis living in areas adjacent to Gaza, such as Sderot. Their plight has received widespread national attention, highlighting the hazards of transforming Israeli cities into border towns.
If Hamas were to gain control over Judea and Samaria, it would place Kfar Saba, Petah Tikva and Beit Shemesh, along with Ben-Gurion Airport itself, within spitting range of the terrorist group. This would be disastrous for Israel's safety and security, as it would put the entire center of the country at the mercy of the masked murderers and their missiles.
Israel, it should be recalled, has captured Gaza twice in the past six decades: first in the 1956 Suez Crisis, and again in 1967.
Each time that Israel left Gaza, the result was simply additional terrorism, whether it was the Fedayeen in the 1950s or Hamas in the present decade.
With these precedents in mind, continued talk of a two-state solution sounds as out-of-date as it does ridiculous.
Hamas' ability to attack Israel in the air and under the ground in recent weeks is a direct result of the fact that the IDF has not had a physical presence in Gaza since the summer of 2005.
This security vacuum is what gave the terrorist organization a free hand to transform the Strip into one big terrorist staging ground. This is further proof, as if any more were needed, that there is simply no substitute for having a military presence in the area.
As Brig.-Gen. (res.) Dr. Aharon Levran notes in his book, Israeli Strategy after Desert Storm: Lessons of the Second Gulf War, "In time of war, the value of alleged substitutes for territory, such as security arrangements and international guarantees, a foreign presence or buffer, demilitarization, electronic sensors and other devices, airborne and hovering intelligence tools, and so forth, approaches zero, and, what is more important, their ability to prevent war is nil."
"The usefulness of these measures," he adds, "depend on the political will of a third party, which at times can be rather fickle.... In short, there are no genuinely trustworthy defense arrangements that can serve in place of territory and strategic depth."
Hamas' behavior over the past month has made this abundantly clear to all.
So regardless of how Operation Protective Edge plays out in the coming days or weeks, by now it should be obvious that a continued IDF presence on the ground is the only way to ensure peace and tranquility.
In 2005, Israel pulled its forces out of Gaza, attempting to defy the laws of military physics, and the experiment has literally blown up in the country's face. But any chance of pulling off a sequel in Judea and Samaria has now thankfully gone up in a plume of smoke, just like many of the rockets that Hamas has been firing at us without pause.