April 18, 2024
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Hamas’ War Crimes: A Strategic Weapon For Israel in the International Arena

For once, the world understands just what sort of an enemy we’re dealing with. Better take advantage of it, and fast.

The State of Israel is at war. The horrific attacks by the terrorist organization Hamas–in which hundreds of Israelis, soldiers and innocent civilians alike were murdered, while dozens of others were kidnapped to the Gaza Strip–is the 9/11 of the Jewish state. For years, Israel avoided overwhelming Hamas; its strategic logic was to maintain Hamas as an effective civilian government in the Gaza Strip while weakening it militarily.

Thus, the strategic purpose of military operations against Hamas, from Operation Cast Lead in 2008 to Operation Guardian of the Walls in 2021, was to severely damage their military capabilities and preserve it as the address responsible for managing the lives of the population in the Gaza Strip. Another Israeli goal was to create two rival Palestinian entities–the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip–which in practice would weaken the Palestinian system.

From a historical point of view, the attack by Hamas, precisely at this time, is not surprising. The prospect of normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia constitutes a significant and painful strategic blow for the Palestinians. For years, they asserted–and managed to convince many in Israel and the Western world–that without a solution to their problem, normalization between Israel and the Arab world would not transpire.

Normalization with Saudi Arabia was widely held to be the last nail in the coffin of the “Palestinian taboo,” after which the Palestinians would be more isolated and poorer than ever, especially if their leadership decided not to jump on the bandwagon of peace and be part of the historical transformation occurring in the Middle East.

Saudi Normalization Would Have Been a Blow to the ‘Palestinian Taboo’

Similar to the 1970s, when planes were hijacked by Palestinian terrorists, and the Second Intifada erupted following the Palestinian refusal at the Camp David conference in 2000, instead of joining the peace wagon, the Palestinians once again chose the path that has always raised their status in the world: launching terror attacks.

While the Palestinian Authority is completely futile, Hamas aims to ignite the Palestinian territories in the West Bank, with direct aid from Iran, in order to arouse the Palestinian people, who, in recent years, have hardened their stance toward Israel. They no longer perceive the Palestinian Authority as an entity that represents them but as an Israeli ally.

Thus, Hamas strives to ignite the Palestinian population, which strongly opposes normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia. As long as there is no resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, the Palestinian Authority will have no choice but to support the violence and terrorism, otherwise, it will lose support on the street.

As far as Palestinians are concerned, the surprise attacks carried out by Hamas and the possible outbreak of a third intifada, will reinforce the notion that they are the weak side fighting for independence against Israel, the occupying and brutal force. The severe confrontations between Israel’s security forces and the Palestinians, which would inevitably flow from a third intifada, would only serve to further illustrate this.

In addition, the Palestinians hope that a third intifada would lead to sharp criticism against Israel from around the world for acting harshly against the Palestinians. Even the signatories of the Abraham Accords, including the new entrant Saudi Arabia, would not be able to stay silent were this to happen, for fear of losing support on the street.

Thus, the Palestinians will try to engineer a third intifada as a tool to embarrass Saudi Arabia—and other Gulf countries that are signatories to the Abraham Accords, including Jordan and Egypt, which are very sensitive to public opinion—for betraying the Palestinian cause and once again abandoning the Palestinian people to their cruel fate.

Yet, this time, Hamas made a strategic mistake by embarking on a murderous campaign of innocent civilians. As a hybrid terrorist organization that controls territory and uses, among other things, psychological warfare, Hamas even documented its actions with the aim of creating more animosity toward Israel.

However, the recent videos and photos circulating on the Internet, in which innocent civilians are slaughtered
by Hamas terrorists, only serve to weaken their support among the international community. In the Western world, such horrific images coming from the Gaza Strip are reminiscent of the cruelty meted out by ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

These horrific videos and images that illustrate the barbaric behavior of Hamas give Israel full legitimacy to end the Gaza problem. The enlightened world cannot now fail to understand the extreme barbarism of the terrorist organization that the State of Israel is facing. Better take advantage of it—and fast.

The writer is a research fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS), and a research fellow at the University of South Wales, UK. His recent book is Israel: National Security and Securitization (Springer, 2023).

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