Opinion: Israel’s new strategy has allowed Gaza rulers to become increasingly brazen and expand into Lebanon; in order to stop them, Israel must punish the terror group for any infraction in the West Bank, Jerusalem, Gaza and even Lebanon

Ever since its conflict with Israel in May of last year, the Hamas terrorist group has been boasting about the new equation it has created vis-à-vis Israel. It claims to have linked Jerusalem and the West Bank to Gaza, so in case tensions boil over in any of these territories, Hamas would have the right to intervene.

The terror outfit has tried to pull off this feat for years but to no avail. Then, the May 2021 war happened and Hamas’ success in that aspect has exceeded its wildest expectations.

פלסטינים מנופפים בדגלי פלסטיןחמאס בהר הבית
Palestinians waving Hamas flags on the Temple Mount, April 2022 (Photo: Reuters)


While the group fought Israel from the Gaza Strip, both the West Bank and East Jerusalem were set ablaze by Palestinian rioters who regularly clashed with security forces while the Negev was rocked by violent riots perpetrated by both Israeli Arabs and Bedouins.

This intense series of events made many forget that at the time, rockets also came flying into northern Israel from Lebanon and that it was Hamas’ military branch in the northern neighbor behind the attack.

The founder and leader of the Lebanon branch is the group’s deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri whose goal was to establish a clandestine military force on Lebanese soil that would harass Israel from the north.

Two weeks after its existence became known to the world, a mysterious blast rattled one of its arms depots. Hamas made sure to keep the circumstances of the incident under wraps, and to this day, it remains unclear what or who had caused it.

תקיפת צה"ל לעבר לבנון. נורו עשרות פגזים
Israeli tank shells southern Lebanon in retaliation to rocket strike (Photo: The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)


The Lebanese branch is headquartered in the city of Tyr and is subordinate to the Hamas leadership in exile, but is also in contact with Hamas in Gaza.

The Lebanese branch reminded us of its existence Sunday night when a single rocket was fired from Lebanon and landed in an open field near one of the country’s northernmost communities. Hamas, for its part, did not take responsibility for the rocket.

Reality proves that Israel is playing right into Hamas’ hands.

Israel is going through conflagrating tensions, and the defense establishment is trying to create an artificial distinction between Hamas’ terrorist activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and its activities in the Gaza Strip.

Israel is also refraining from punishing Hamas for the unrest it orchestrates from the Gaza Strip, which then spills over to other places. The incitement and terror attacks currently plaguing Israel have all originated in Gaza.

Israel, however, has chosen to ignore the group for as long as its offensive activities (such as rocket fire) do not leave the boundaries of the Gaza Strip.

Hamas knows this well and it is clear that it is taking advantage of this strategy. But its use of the Lebanese front takes the issue one step further – some would say one step too far. It is, therefore, appropriate to re-examine Israel’s punitive policy.

מצעד צבאי בעזה
Hamas militants in Gaza (Photo: AFP)


A possible solution to this would be to fight fire with fire. Hamas advocates a policy of linking the various fronts; Israel can decide to do the same. Hamas sends a squad to carry out an attack in the West Bank? Israel shutters the Kerem Shalom crossing through which humanitarian aid enters the Gaza Strip.

The terror group launches a rocket from Gaza? Israel carries out a retaliatory attack in the Gaza Strip and simultaneously arrests senior Hamas members in the West Bank.

Hamas launches a rocket from Lebanon? Israel attacks Hamas facilities in Gaza. The terror group incites clashes on Temple Mount? In response, Israel will close or restrict the fishing zone off Gaza’s coast.

Such a policy shift could shake up the whole blueprint that Hamas has drawn up vis-à-vis Israel. It could cause another escalation in the short term, but those responsible for our security must think long term.

שר הביטחון בני גנץ בהערכת מצב בפיקוד דרום
Senior Israeli defense officials meeting amid simmering security tensions (Photo: The Defense Ministry)


When Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was appointed defense minister in 2019, Israel started to show such policy changes.

Israel acted to eliminate Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Ata in the Gaza Strip, all while unknown aircraft in Damascus attacked the home of Akram Al-Ajuri, the head of the Islamic Jihad’s military wing.

It was a creative line of thought that shook the terror groups’ misconception of immunity.

Now might be the time to shake it up again.

As reported by Ynetnews