by Dr. Reuven Berko
Much of the Islamic world is currently engaged in the commandment of Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, ahead of the festival of Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice), when, according to Islamic tradition, Abraham went up to offer his son Ishmael -- not Isaac, as in the Jewish tradition -- as a sacrifice to God. Regretfully for many Muslims, millions of Ishmaels are sacrificing each other every day, contrary to the widespread and sad tradition of striking the "infidel" or the "other."
Meanwhile, Hamas is also preparing its own sacrificial feast. The terror tunnel that was discovered inside Israeli territory, well-financed and made of concrete, is a hateful declaration of renewed hostility against us. Though Israelis foiled the plot, it is nevertheless an act of aggression. Through this tunnel -- and others that have yet to be discovered -- the organization has sought to launch a series of terror attacks, operations designed to murder and kidnap Israeli hostages in the near future.
Since the interim Egyptian government took over in Cairo, Hamas has seemingly rejected any Islamic or multilateral Arab support, allowing it to manage its conflict with Israel. Maybe, precisely under these circumstances, Hamas decided it would be auspicious to escalate the conflict with Israel now.
The sanctions imposed by the Egyptian military against Hamas' tunnels and activities in the Sinai Peninsula have strangled the organization militarily and economically. The Muslim Brotherhood -- openly supportive of Hamas -- has found itself struggling to survive Egypt's current military government. The tunnel infrastructure, which mainly benefited close associates of the leadership, has been destroyed. Distribution of gasoline, medicine and other products has flagged. As prices skyrocket, the Gazan public is growing increasingly agitated.
According to sources in the Gaza Strip, Hamas is concerned that the Tamarod opposition has been getting stronger while planning subversive activities. Rumor has it that mass protests are scheduled for Nov. 11 to try to oust Hamas. To prepare, the organization has ordered security forces to shoot at protesters to put the brakes on accelerating unrest. The expected Israeli response to the tunnel operation was meant to stymie the likelihood of such events from occurring.
Under the current circumstances, the Islamist terror group doesn't have much left to lose. What could Hamas gain from a conflict with Israel? Successful operations to murder or kidnap Israelis were meant to boost the organization's popularity. The Israeli counter-attack was then supposed to embarrass the interim Egyptian government, painting it as a collaborator with Israel. The expected conflict would then supposedly strengthen the Egyptian Brotherhood at the expense of the "traitors" of "the nation," seditiously exploiting the already volatile religious cocktail comprising the Hajj season, the Feast of the Sacrifice and the claims of destruction of the Al-Aqsa mosque. Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, Israeli Arab Islamic activist Raed Salah and even Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are all working from these inciting motifs as we speak.
Additionally, the tunnels are meant to humiliate the Palestinian Liberation Organization, which has failed to free Palestinian prisoners, languishing instead in pointless negotiations with Israel. Hamas was hoping to reuse the Schalit formula: Strike a series of blows on the Israeli homefront, kidnap hostages, successfully secure the release of prisoners -- all to paint Israel as beaten and blackmailed.
The likely conflict was supposed to hurt Israel -- the Jewish state enjoying an "insufferable" quiet while the Islamic world wallows in a puddle of its own blood -- focusing the Islamic world on the Palestinian conflict, freeing Hamas from the grip of a deadlock and its steady march toward collapse just beyond the turning point. Mashaal and his associates have been traveling to Hamas' beloved capitals in Istanbul, Tehran and Beirut, apparently to seek financial, military and political backing for the expected showdown.
It appears that Hamas -- an expert in digging tunnels around Rafah -- decided it was worthwhile to invest millions in new terror tunnels penetrating Israel in return for lucrative political benefits.
The highly invested terror tunnel that the IDF uncovered is basically PR leverage for everyone complaining about the blockade on Gaza. The early detection of the tunnel constitutes a slap in the face to Hamas, which invested huge capital in the project, assuming its furtiveness. But the project was penetrable, thanks in large part to the security apparatus.
Still, we must remember that our defenses are constantly dealing with the threat of several terror tunnels yet to be discovered.
It is more than likely that, ahead of the current Feast of the Sacrifice, leaders of the murderous organization, locked in an existential trap, intended to sacrifice several Isaacs. There is no better time than Eid al-Adha to send the architects of the tunnel enterprise for a meeting with the late Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin, who has already been promoted to the coveted status of martyr, so that, unlike in the story of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac, we're not the ones who end up sorry.
Dr. Reuven Berko
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.