Hamas backtracking? Not so fast.

Posted: August 21, 2011 by Jonathan Boyko in Gaza, Hamas, IDF, International, Israel, Palestinians, Press and Media, Terrorism, United Nations

According to recent reports, Hamas negotiates with Gaza’s other armed factions to establish a unilateral cease-fire, after killing eight Israelis on August 18th – and more, via rocket attacks. While some might believe it suggests Hamas is scared and wants to prevent further destruction of its assets, it is likely that the scheme is more sophisticated than that.

Hamas understood in advance that attacking Israeli civilians would provoke Israeli response and no condemnation of the Arab league would defend the Strip. Realizing political winds around the world, though – UN in particular – Ismayil Haniyeh, Hamas’ leader in Gaza believed he could terrorize Israelis, scoring points with his superiors and some neighbors, while suffering relatively little to no damage.

Haniyeh understands that leveraging international press – as well as bodies such as the United Nations and the Arab League – is a cinch; on all previous occasions, the international community was quick to call upon Israel to halt counter-operations in Gaza. The talk of a cease-fire is no more than a ruse to leave the scene unscathed, after achieving Hamas’ goals.

When Hamas declares another lull – which never is what Hamas claims it to be – Israel will have two options. Either abide by the newly set game rules, hence suffering political defeat vis-à-vis Gaza, or continue the armed campaign. The latter option is also split into two: either Israel keeps destroying Gazan targets from the air (mostly an ineffective tactic) or it moves into Gaza with armed forces, an operation similar to 2008-09 operation Cast Lead.

Haniyeh calculated that whatever path Israel chooses, Hamas wins. If Israel halts its attacks, Hamas claims it won the battle. If Israel keeps bombarding the area, each civilian casualty (real or invented by Palestinian press handlers) plays against the Jewish state. And, finally, if Israel moves into Gaza with ground forces, Gaza’s ruler is confident the Israelis will not cause significant damage to Hamas’ infrastructure, learning his lessons from past experiences.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s