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Monday, September 21, 2009

Why Hamas has gone (relatively) quiet

Over the weekend, two Hamas terrorists were killed trying to infiltrate the border fence between Gaza and Israel. Still, Hamas has gone relatively quiet since the end of Operation Cast Lead, leading some to believe that perhaps the group has given up terror altogether. TerrorWonk explains that belief is wrong.
Rocket fire against Israel would only increase Hamas' international isolation, enforce the notion that sanctions against Gaza are necessary, and lend further impetus to American and Israeli support for Fatah against Hamas in the West Bank. This would weaken the organization amidst its current drive to supplant Fatah as the representative of the Palestinians and consolidate power after a 2006 electoral victory and its 2007 military coup in Gaza.

In other words, the decision to halt the firing of rockets from Gaza is not an abandonment of its long-term strategy of war against Israel. It is merely an element within its short-term strategy to consolidate power among the Palestinians. As Shin Bet (Israeli Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin recently noted, the recent trail off in rocket fire, "doesn't mean they [Hamas] have abandoned ideological principles. Hamas is turning to the diplomatic sphere to challenge exclusive control by [Fatah leader] Abu Mazen."


It would be overly optimistic to interpret Hamas' cease-fire since Operation Cast Lead as an indication of a philosophical change. The ineffectiveness of Hamas' rocket attacks relative to the damage it suffered from the IDF offensive must be one factor in Hamas' decision-making. Intra-Palestinian politics is another. Ultimately, short-term choices that impact Palestinian political dynamics will not likely prompt Hamas to renounce its goal of destroying Israel, or its long-term use of violence to achieve that end.
Read the whole thing.

It's naive to think that Hamas has given up terror altogether. I'm inclined to believe that they were badly beaten in January (not badly enough) but they are regrouping for the next battle. They are also hoping that the Goldstone Commission and its ilk will weaken Israel on the diplomatic front and force it to be even more constrained in the next round.

The picture at the top is Anas Naim, one of the Hamas 'medics' that the Goldstone Commission found was killed by Israel during Operation Cast Lead.


At 7:59 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Hamas has not become more moderate. They've been forced to restrain themselves because at the moment they are too weak to take on Israel. If the situation were ever to shift in their favor, Hamas would resort to terrorism again as a weapon. Israelis should enjoy this unnatural calm while it lasts - it won't last forever.


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