When the Israelis finally complete their “Iron Dome” missile defence system they are more likely to consider another attack against the people of the Gaza Strip. Once again, the likely pretext will be “missiles” launched from Gaza at 1948-occupied Palestine.
Israel says explicitly that Hamas is not interested in a new confrontation at the moment. However, some prominent security and military analysts (such as Amos Harel and Alex Fishman) say that the Islamic Resistance Movement is using the current calm to prepare for a new assault by the occupation authorities.
It is certain that the military wing of Hamas works day and night to get so prepared; its men have never put down their weapons, nor have they abandoned resistance as an option against Israel’s military occupation. Nevertheless, the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip cannot engage in war with Israel on their own. They are besieged by land, sea and air, and no matter how well equipped they are this is always going to be an asymmetric conflict; everything at the moment is in favour of the Israeli occupation, including the attitude and positions taken by the Palestinian Authority and Arab world. Regional conditions are not conducive to any concerted effort against Israel. The best that Hamas can do is to be prepared to defend the people as best it can against Israeli aggression.
The situation is not only dependent on what is happening in Egypt but also to other developments in the region, where everything that is happening seems to be in the best interests of the enemy. This is not because the Arab Spring proved to be a conspiracy as many would like us to believe, but because anti-revolution regimes managed to abort the most important part of the uprising in Egypt, and because Bashar Al-Assad’s regime has been able, in collaboration with Iran, to make the conflict there a black hole that drains all powers, including Iran, Hezbollah, the Arab Spring and Turkey, while destroying Syria in the process. All of this is so that Iran can preserve its strategic niche in Syria and so that Assad can stay in power, even at the cost of Syrian integrity and its people.
Hamas is now being targeted by the regime in Egypt at the behest of Cairo’s Gulf State financiers, at the same time that the latter won’t allow Hamas to get them involved in a confrontation with the Israelis. Such a move would embarrass the Gulf leaders in front of their people, as they have already lost a lot of public support due to their positions towards the coup in Egypt.
The Islamic Resistance Movement is now facing a difficult situation on all fronts; while it is losing support everyone is trying to be on the good side of the Israelis. This includes those in the “axis of moderation”, at the forefront of whom are the coup organisers in Egypt, who need Netanyahu’s help to achieve their objectives. It even affects those in the “axis of resistance”, one of whose members has given up its chemical weapons in exchange for staying in power, while another gave up on its nuclear programme in exchange for lifting sanctions and preserving the regime in Damascus. These moves will lead eventually to pushes for a new policy regarding the conflict in Palestine, with everyone making allies against the so-called “terrorist” camp.
What’s worse is that Hamas’s position within the framework of the Muslim Brotherhood in particular, and political Islam in general, makes it a target for the counter-revolution in the Arab world, which no longer hides its appetite for uprooting political Islam from the entire region. It is pushing the coup organisers in Egypt to tighten the siege of Gaza in the hope that this will make the Palestinians rebel against the movement or make life even more difficult and humiliating than it is at present. The escalation of this was made clear by the Egyptian regime’s designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a “terrorist” group and the ongoing insistence that Hamas is responsible for unrest within Egypt. It is a crazy suggestion because it is not in the Palestinians’ interests to provoke Cairo into tightening the siege; the Hamas leadership continues to show goodwill towards Egypt in the hope that the blockade will ease, but it does no good.
The PA on the other hand looks comfortable about all that is happening and it is contributing to the blockade of Gaza instead of working to ease it. If it didn’t fear a negative public response it would be even more hostile as it hopes to see the Hamas government in Gaza collapse. One senior official said a few months ago that he would like to see the Egyptian army take over the Gaza Strip.
Hamas has no other option but to be patient and resilient, in addition to counting on the limited support it receives from here and there. A more important option is represented in a comprehensive intifada in the West Bank and all Palestinian land that can reunite the people on the basis of resistance, and not on the basis of preserving an authority that has been designed to serve the occupation.
Only such an uprising can save Hamas and Fatah, but more important than saving those two factions is the need to save the entire Palestinian cause, because everyone is in a fix. While Abbas negotiates secretly with Netanyahu in London it is possible that he will come up with a disastrous agreement similar to what was done in Oslo. All of the possibilities look disastrous, whether they are “final status” solutions, intermediate deals or simply keeping the status quo with all the confusion inherent therein.
What is left is the huge gap between those who work day and night to prepare for a confrontation with the enemy, and those who are deep into security coordination with Israel. No matter what the outcome of the new developments is, even though Hamas may have lost its way since agreeing to participate in the Oslo-dictated 2006 elections, at the moment it is enough for the movement that it still hasn’t given up on its principles.
This is a translation of the Arabic text published by Ad Dustour newspaper on 31 December, 2013
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.