2 PMW op-eds explaining what Hamas hopes to gain
by launching rockets at Israel
- HAMAS STRATEGY: KILL ISRAELIS TO DEFEAT FATAH - op-ed in The Jerusalem Post by PMW director Itamar Marcus
- THE INEVITABLE HAMAS ROCKET ATTACK - op-ed in The Times of Israel by PMW head of legal strategies Maurice Hirsch, Adv.
HAMAS STRATEGY: KILL ISRAELIS TO DEFEAT FATAH
by Itamar Marcus
Numerous analysts are trying to explain the timing of Hamas' missile launch this week at a town north of Tel Aviv, 85 km. inside Israel. Looking at what is challenging Hamas in recent weeks, the missile attack in all likelihood has little to do with Israel. While Hamas' missile was directed at Israelis, Hamas' real target was Fatah, the ruling PA political party of Mahmoud Abbas.
Since the end of the Palestinian civil war in 2007, when Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip, Fatah and Hamas have been sparring in an ongoing internal war for the hearts and minds of Palestinians. There are periods when PA-Fatah generate more hate incitement against Hamas, and vice versa, than against Israel. Now is one of those times.
In recent weeks, the enmity and mutual incitement between Fatah and Hamas has been growing. Demonstrators have taking to the streets of the Gaza Strip to protest Hamas' failed administration. Hamas has responded by blaming the demonstrations on Fatah and arresting Fatah activists.
Two weeks ago, when Hamas fired missiles toward Tel Aviv, Fatah spokesman Osama Al-Qawasmi attributed those launches as an attempt to distract Gazans from their misery of failed Hamas rule: "Launching missiles in order to put down the uprising of the starving is an unacceptable act, and is overt and obvious to all" (Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 16, 2019).
The attacks on Hamas by PA-Fatah were intensified on official PA TV and on Fatah's Facebook page, both of which presented pictures of injured Palestinian children who they claimed were beaten by Hamas.
A regular columnist in the official PA daily referred to Hamas as "the face of treason... the supporters of Satan." He called for the residents of the Gaza Strip to rise up violently against Hamas: "Gaza, the time has come. Tighten the noose around them. Hang them with the ropes of their treason, for the shame and disgrace is theirs, and this is the end of the traitorous heretics." (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 20, 2019)
PLO Executive Committee member Tayseer Khaled condemned Hamas' treatment of the demonstrators: "What we are seeing before us is not security forces, but rather 'Gestapo' gangs." (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 20, 2019)
Hamas has not stood silently in the face of these verbal attacks by Fatah. Hamas tried to delegitimize Fatah in the eyes of the Palestinian population by releasing fabricated statements of condemnation of last week's terrorist attack in which an Israeli father of 12 and a soldier were murdered and attributing them to PA leaders.
Hamas claimed the "spokesman of the PA Security Forces... Adnan Al-Damiri described the operation as 'criminal'" (Palestine Now, independent news website, March 17, 2019). Al-Damiri immediately attacked Hamas for "the lies and falsehoods that were attributed to him [by Hamas]."
Hamas likewise claimed that PA Police Commissioner Maj.-Gen. Hazem Atallah had said: "We are fearlessly and unashamedly making efforts to find the one who carried out the spiteful operation in Salfit" (Website of Hamas's Al-Aqsa Channel, March 20, 2019).
This of course was likewise denied, but the pattern is clear. Given the fact that terrorism, including murder of civilians, is supported by nearly the entire Palestinian population, by announcing that the PA police are condemning the attack and searching for the terrorist on behalf of the Israeli army, Hamas was clearly trying to blacken the PA's standing.
It is in the context of this 12-year internal Palestinian conflict between Fatah and Hamas that Hamas launched the rocket attack on Israel this week. Demonstrations against Hamas have been continuing throughout the Gaza Strip. There have been numerous cases of brutality by Hamas police that are being witnessed and reported on by Gaza's residents themselves, and there have been injuries.
Given its desperate internal situation, and with its popularity dropping daily, Hamas decided to launch a rocket at central Israel. This act may be intended to bring a strong military response from Israel. Hamas has used this tactic in the past to gain popularity. Even though Hamas' wars against the Israeli army have brought destruction upon the Palestinian population, and are responsible for thousands of deaths, Palestinian opinion polls show that Hamas always had elevated popular support because they fought against Israel. The polls after each of the three Hamas-Israeli conflicts showed Hamas more popular than Fatah.
Accordingly, Hamas' firing of the missiles creates for it a win-win situation. If Israel does not respond with a strong reprisal, it can show Palestinians that it attacks Israel's population centers with impunity, and that Israel has lost its deterrence. They will present Israel as weak in the face of the terrorist group. If Israel does come back with a strong military response, Hamas is seen as being heroic for having taken on the Israeli army.
Tragically, Hamas and Fatah are fighting each other with the only weapon they have that assures popularity among the broad spectrum of Palestinians: attempting to kill Israelis.
THE INEVITABLE HAMAS ROCKET ATTACK
By Maurice Hirsch
The launch of a rocket this morning by the Palestinian "factions" - a.k.a terrorist groups - targeting the center of Israel's civilian population was inevitable.
The tensions between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, that have existed since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, started escalating in 2018 with financial decisions made by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, that punished Hamas in an attempt to force it into agreeing to relinquish its control of Gaza.
When the financial measures failed, Abbas decided to dissolve the Palestinian Parliament. Abbas' decision stripped Hamas of the ability to seize control of the PA by lawful means. PA law provides that in the event that the Chairman is unable to perform his duties, the position is filled, for an interim period, by the Speaker of the Parliament. The Speaker of the dissolved parliament was from Hamas. In the absence of a parliament, there is also no Speaker to replace Abbas.
Finally, Abbas decided to replace the "national consensus" government that had been headed by a Prime Minister unaffiliated with either Abbas' Fatah party or with Hamas. In place of the ostensibly neutral Prime Minister, Abbas appointed long time Fatah leader and Abbas crony, Mahmoud Shtayyeh.
On the backdrop of this rift and while failing to provide the basic needs of the Palestinians under its control, Hamas started organizing the infamous weekly violent confrontations with Israel.
Adopting 25 years of PA teachings that every so-called Palestinian refugee, will enjoy the "right to return" to Israel, and thereby democratically destroy Israel, Hamas tried to deflect attention from its failures and mobilize the masses against Israel.
When these violent clashes failed to achieve their desired effect, and as Hamas appeared to be losing ground to Abbas' PA, violent clashes between Fatah supporters and Hamas ensued. These clashes were met with a heavy handed response by Hamas.
Abbas' PA and Fatah have seized the opportunity to condemn Hamas. On March 16, 2019, the Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, included a statement made by Fatah Revolutionary Council member and Fatah Spokesman Osama Al-Qawasmi, who said that Hamas launched the missile attack 10 days ago in order to "calm the uprising of the starving" Gazans.
Al-Qawasmi could make that statement based on the cumulative experience of the PA and Fatah, which has consistently initiated waves of terrorism against Israel, any time the PA or Fatah leaders were suffering from a loss of popular support.
The "official" reasoning provided for the rocket launch - the Israeli aggression towards the terrorist prisoners, is no different.
During the evening prior to the launch of the rocket, Hamas terrorist prisoners attacked two Israeli prison service officers, stabbing one in the neck. The response of the Prison Service was quick and forceful. Had this event stood alone, it may have been possible to attribute the launch to this cause.
Again using the PA's constant messaging and indoctrination that the terrorist prisoners are legitimate "freedom fighters", Hamas also had to prove its bona fides as the protector of the terrorist prisoners.
Accordingly, here again, notwithstanding the "official" excuse the underlying motive for the launch of the rocket, has nothing to do with Israel, but rather the internal Palestinian power struggle to win the hearts of the Palestinians.
As if the internal Palestinian power struggle was insufficient, in the last few weeks the PA and Hamas received what they perceive to be additional, albeit expected support, from the international community, specifically the UN.
In the last few weeks, Hamas and the other Palestinian "factions" in Gaza have continued to launch rocket attacks against Israel, including two long range rockets (criticized by Qawasmi) that targeted Israel's heavily civilian populated Dan region. While often quick to condemn Israel, the UN Secretary General's Special representative to the Middle East, Nikkolay Mladenov, issued no condemnation of these attacks.
Last week, the UN Human Rights Council adopted several resolutions condemning Israel after adopting the PA and Hamas narrative that the violent clashes, organized and orchestrated by Hamas, on Israel's border with Gaza since March 30th 2018, are nothing more than peaceful demonstrations and that the Israeli response to them was excessive.
The combination of the internal Palestinian power struggle with the "stamp of approval" of the UN that Palestinian terrorism will constantly be downplayed and even ignored in order to serve the goal of vilifying Israel made the launch of the rocket attack inevitable. Now, when Israel responds, the PA and Hamas will again play their all too successful "victim card", in the hope of diverting attention from their own pugnacious policies in favor of condemning Israel.