Destroying the tunnels was a central goal of the Israeli military campaign, which Gaza medical officials have said killed around 1,300 Palestinians. Israeli officials estimated that the attacks destroyed 80 percent of the tunnels, and Palestinians agreed that the strikes crippled their smuggling business.
Abu Nissim rose from the covered tunnel entrance and triumphantly raised a box of Cheer Up chocolate-covered wafers over his head.
"New from the tunnel," the young Palestinian tunnel digger boasted Thursday as his friends tore open the packages of Egyptian cookies.
One day after the last Israeli soldier left the Gaza Strip after a 26-day military campaign to destabilize the militant Islamist group Hamas and demolish the tunnels used to bring in weapons, Palestinian smugglers — and tunnel diggers — were back in business.
Bulldozers rumbled along the border, clearing away tons of earth for new tunnel entrances. Young boys climbed 90 feet down into the ground to recover supplies from storerooms in partially demolished tunnels. Fuel trucks pulled up to makeshift depots to fill up on diesel fuel and liquid propane, which is used for cooking, that's pumped underground from the Egyptian side of the border.
Now, by "losing" I'm taking the overly simplistic view that when a country goes to war and doesn't achieve its stated military objectives, it loses -- and especially when the adversary is militarily inferior. Like, say, the United States lost the Viet Nam war.
I'm aware that a more sophisticated view holds that Israel's (unstated) military objective is simply to brutalize the Palestinians, and that objective was amply achieved. In that case, the loss is of a different kind, and the consequences, ultimately, of a far more enduring and final character; see, e.g., Matthew 16:26.