Opinion: Even though we’ve experienced relative peace, that doesn’t mean Hamas suddenly decided to change its policies regarding Israel, it could be nothing more than quiet before a very big storm

The entire Israeli security establishment is giddy at successfully forcing Hamas into a state of calm along the Gaza border for the last two weeks (with the exception of Tuesday night’s brace of rockets), with reported cancellation of a mass protest planned for the weekend as an added bonus.

But is Operation Black Belt – which began with the killing of Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Ata and continued with bombardments of the Strip- the reason for the current peace along the border, or is it no more than a tactical move by Hamas?

Hamas' fighters parade in Gaza
Hamas’ fighters parade in Gaza


The first test will begin on Friday, which marks 72 years since the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, a plan that called for the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states in Palestine and marked the end of the British Mandate.

If the calm holds along the border, or only small, symbolic protests take place, it will be a clear sign that something has indeed changed in Gaza.

If the rage of the Palestinian people in the West Bank doesn’t seep into the Gaza Strip at all, it’ll be an even better harbinger of things to come.

If the above scenarios do indeed happen, then Israel will be able to think in terms of a window of opportunity and actually reach a long-term agreement with Hamas in Gaza.

יום הזעם בחברון
Day of Rage protests in Hebron on Tuesday (Photo: MCT)


Israel tends to celebrate tactical achievements rather too quickly, the euphoria felt after a successful military operation tends to lead to a misconception of Palestinian society on a political level.

Israelis have a tendency to think that winning a campaign is a total victory, even now we forgot that the two-week period of calm follows 18 months of protests every weekend, with as many as tens of thousands of people participating in each.

Israel, the local “superpower”, has failed to contain the unrest that has turned life in communities surrounding Gaza unbearable, conflicts that resulted in 300 killed and thousands of injured on the Palestinian side.

With all of this in mind, it is possible that the regime in Gaza hasn’t been forced into calm, but is merely recalculating its current course.

It’s not far-fetched to assume that Hamas canceled the protests at the border in order to prevent any further injuries from IDF fire, a situation that could give the Islamic Jihad the opportunity to defy Hamas and attack Israel.

It’s also possible that the calm in Gaza is the result of Hamas pacifying the Strip’s various factions, in order to restructure its inner workings after the elimination of Abu al-Ata, who openly defied Hamas’ authority.

הפרות סדר והפגנות בגדר עזה
Protests near the Gaza border (Photo: EPA)


Hamas sees itself as a proper army after all, and not as a military branch of a terrorist organization.
To illustrate this point, Mohammed Deif, who was once merely the head of the organization’s military wing Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, is now referred to as its chief of staff in Hamas’ statements to the local media.

The Hamas claim that Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades is an official army, creates a chain of command that Islamic Jihad flat out refused to adhere to.

In the field, there are a few more encouraging signs that things may have changed. In the last two weeks, Hamas’ hammer of peace came down hard on any protesters who disobeyed their orders and tried to enter Israel or attack IDF soldiers.

Hamas also prevented the destructive incendiary balloon attacks, preventing the burning of Israeli fields near the border; those who disobeyed the leadership’s instructions were promptly arrested.

התפרעויות פלסטינים רצועת עזה
Protests in Gaza (Photo: AFP)


Hamas is also feeling amicable towards the Palestinian Authority, which persuaded Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to agree to democratic elections to the Gaza Strip parliament – as long as he can run as part of a list not affiliated with Hamas.

It seems though, that the IDF is not content with a mere military achievement, and is pushing for the political echelon to perpetuate the current state in Gaza with civil doctrines that would essentially solidify Hamas’ rule over the Strip.

Being content with a military achievement is one thing, but playing with potentially incendiary political games is not the prerogative of the IDF.

הפרות סדר והפגנות בגדר עזה
Protests near the Gaza border (Photo: courtesy)


Who’s to say that Hamas has really changed its policies? Who decided that Israel should nurture Hamas’ hold over Gaza?

Hamas’ goal is to take over the Palestinian Authority, either by force or by elections, before it deals with the “Zionist entity” on the other side of the border. In order to achieve this goal, Hamas needs a long truce in order to further entrench itself in the Strip.

Is Israel basically agreeing to a short-term truce that will lead in the long term to a far more powerful enemy?

Was this the instruction given to the IDF from the political echelon? Or, due to the chronic lack of leadership in Israel, is the IDF making its own decisions with potentially long-lasting political implications?

As reported by Ynetnews