Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Hamas misjudged Israel's response to rocket fire on J'lem - Daniel Siryoti


by Daniel Siryoti

Meanwhile, contrary to the terrorist group's successful efforts to fan the flames in east Jerusalem, it is failing miserably to rouse the Palestinian public in Judea and Samaria to clash with Israeli security forces there.

The last thing Hamas wanted was a round of fighting with Israel with the month of Ramadan winding down and the holiday of Eid al-Fitr just around the corner.

The Palestinian terrorist group, however, essentially handcuffed itself by issuing a litany of threats the moment clashes erupted in east Jerusalem, alongside the unusual declaration by Mohammed Deif, the commander of its military wing, which further incited and encouraged the Palestinian residents to confront Israeli security forces in the Old City.

Hamas, which apparently miscalculated the IDF response to the rocket barrage targeting Jerusalem, not only exploited the cancellation of the elections in the Palestinian Authority to win a few public opinion points, it also exacerbated the tensions on the ground by inserting the religious variable into the equation in claiming that Israel was trying to "Judaize" east Jerusalem by evicting Arab resident of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in favor of Jewish residents and changing the status quo on the Temple Mount. Not to mention the chilly relations between the Biden administration and Israel, the weakness and instability of the political system in Israel, and Hamas' understanding that it can dictate the pace of de-escalation in Gaza in the face of Israel's (correct) policy of containment in the southern sector.

And while on the subject of Mohammed Deif and his rare public remarks, it should be noted that the group's leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, has fallen off the radar in recent weeks. We know there are disagreements within the group's leadership between those calling for confrontation with the IDF and those – Sinwar chief among them – who want to preserve the calm and understandings with Israel via Egyptian intermediaries and monetary aid from Qatar. Sinwar, likely due to inter-organizational considerations, would rather leave the stage completely to and Political Bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh for the time being.

Also of note is that despite the IDF's attacks in Gaza and the relatively high number of casualties there, Hamas had already notched a considerable perception victory as the defender of Jerusalem amid the impotence of Mahmoud Abbas, a splintered Fatah movement and power struggles within the Palestinian Authority. This achievement notwithstanding, however, and contrary to its successful efforts to fan the flames in east Jerusalem, Hamas is failing miserably in its efforts to rouse the Palestinian public in Judea and Samaria to clash with the Israeli security forces there. While Palestinians in Judea and Samaria identify with their Palestinian brethren in east Jerusalem, they would rather leave the violent confrontations to Hamas in Gaza and the capital.

We cautiously assess that although Hamas' rocket fire at "occupied al-Quds" did garner support from Palestinians, mainly in east Jerusalem, the group likely misjudged the strength of the IDF's retaliation.


Daniel Siryoti


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