Israel will never beat Hamas in the game of war, which is guaranteed to only create more Palestinian enemies for Israel. The only way Israel can decimate Hamas is to do a better job of doing what Hamas does best--providing the services that Palestinians need.
Wikipedia reports that
Hamas is particularly popular among Palestinians in the Gaza Strip... Its popularity stems in part from its welfare wing providing social services to Palestinians in the occupied territories. ... 90% of Hamas activities revolve around "social, welfare, cultural, and educational activities." Social services include running relief programs and funding schools, orphanages, mosques, healthcare clinics, soup kitchens, and sports leagues.Juan Cole reports, on his blog, Informed Comment, that
The Gaza Strip, home to some 1.7 million Palestinians (about half of them children and minors), has been the victim for a long time of Israeli colonial oppression, including policies that deliberately harm the health and well-being of its residents. Stunting in children, along with widespread anemia in pregnant women and children, are one result of the economic blockade imposed on Israeli-occupied Gaza by the far right wing Likud government of Israel. Israeli strangulation of the Gaza economy has led not only to poverty and food insecurity but also to threats to the availability of potable water and access to medicine and hospital care.A four-year resident of Gaza explains what it is like to live there currently. It is terrifying. Much more so than to live in Israel.
In our house we have become military experts, specializing in the sounds of Israeli and Palestinian weapons. We can distinguish with ease the sound of Apaches, F-16 missiles, drones, and the Fajr rockets used by Hamas. When Israeli ships shell the coast, it’s a distinct and repetitive thud, marked by a one-second delay between the launch and the impact. The F-16s swoop in like they are tearing open the sky, lock onto their target and with devastating precision destroy entire apartment blocks. It all creates a terrifying soundscape, and at night we lie in our beds hoping that the bombs do not drop on our houses, that glass does not shatter onto our children’s beds. Sometimes, we move from room to room in an attempt to feel some sense of safety. The reality is that there is no escape, neither inside the house nor from the confines of Gaza.What is the author's solution? It might surprise you.
If Israel could facilitate the export of goods from Gaza, build a factory, or indeed help with the timely delivery of reconstruction materials, the transformative effect on Gaza’s economy, and social life, should not be underestimated. Reducing the thirty-per-cent unemployment rate, reversing the devastating trajectory that the U.N. predicts for Gaza, is what Israel—with the backing of the U.N., U.S., E.U., and Tony Blair—could make happen and make happen, soon. Instead, what I have witnessed is a systematic attempt by the Israeli government to deprive Palestinians in Gaza of basic freedoms and prevent them from leading a dignified life; maybe the hatred stirred amongst the Palestinians then is not an unintended consequence. All of this has been done in the name of self-defense, and yet none of this has demonstrably made Israel feel any safer.What, then, would make Israel safer? Paradoxically, by making Palestinians safer. The main reason Palestinians hate Israel is because they receive the brunt of Israel's retaliation whenever Hamas acts out. And the only reason Palestinians appreciate Hamas is because it provides them services that Israel does not provide. Why does Israel not provide these needed services? Because it has blockaded Gaza in an attempt to blockade Hamas. As hundreds of flying rockets attest, that theory does not work.
So the solution, then, although it will be fraught with short-term (and even medium-term) pain, is for the Israeli government to reach out the hand of peace and economic betterment to all Palestinians.
In this way, Hamas can be bypassed, invalidated, and eventually eradicated. It will no doubt take a long time for Israelis and Palestinians to establish a relationship of trust in this way. That's exactly why it needs to start now.