Opinion: The terror group’s decision to stage violent border riots and resume incendiary balloon attacks is meant to force U.S. to be more involved in reconstruction of Gaza and pressure Israel ahead of Bennett’s meeting with Biden later this week
Palestinians riot near the perimeter fence on the Gaza border, August 24, 2021(Photo: AP)
Hamas has in the past few days organized several particularly violent riots ahead of the meeting between Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and U.S. President Joe Biden, set to take place on Thursday in Washington.
The leaders of the terror group that rules Gaza hope that this will push the issue of the enclave’s rehabilitation following the 11-day May war to the top of the meeting’s agenda.
Hamas expects the United States to both pressure Israel to advance the issue and be an active partner in the reconstruction of the Strip.
This means that any attempts on Israel’s part to reconcile with Hamas by easing restrictions on the Strip are doomed to failure.
Israel’s conduct in Gaza over the past week – mainly its failure to retaliate for the rocket fire and lax response to violent riots on the perimeter fence – could only be described as a military blunder. It was only meant to contain the riots and avoid casualties on the Palestinian side in order to not exacerbate the situation.
Mainly, it was a strategic failure on the part of Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. Both of them utterly failed to properly read the diplomatic map.
Israel thought it would be able to buy some peace of mind with money, while failing to understand that Hamas sees violent border riots as an opportunity to achieve much more than a few economic perks. For instance, it seeks to force the Americans to pressure Israel into reaching a long-term agreement with Hamas that would include the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.
Hamas will never voluntarily agree to peace with Israel.
This strategic failure on Israel’s part is not a one-time mistake and will more than likely repeat itself in the future since Gantz as defense minister is not so different from who he was when he served as chief of staff.
His rhetoric may have changed for the better, but not his essence. When you become accustomed to the strategy of buying time instead of dealing with the root of the problem, it tends to come back to you like a boomerang.
Hamas for its part has grown accustomed to Israel’s limited airstrikes, which usually come after incendiary balloons spark fires in Israeli communities near the Gaza border. Hamas can live with Israel’s lax responses to its aggression for as long as the IDF fails to respond with greater power.
The Egyptians warned us. Earlier in August, they made it clear to security officials that Hamas was about to violate the calm achieved following Operation Guardians of the Walls and resume its attacks.
Egyptian Intelligence Minister Abbas Kamel, who visited Israel earlier this month to meet Gantz and Bennett, asked Israel to accommodate Hamas on civilian issues to ease the rising tensions.
But since Israel is so used to its usual routine of trying to bribe Hamas, it once again fell into the same trap – it paid, made a fool of itself, and then got attacked anyway.
In the same week that ended with Palestinians rioting on the fence, Israel approved several relief measures for Gaza that have not been seen for a long time, including the issuance of thousands of work permits for Palestinians, as well as imports of electronic equipment and construction materials.
Gantz, meanwhile, has taken it upon himself to try and find the “right formula” that would allow Qatar’s financial aid to be transferred into the Gaza Strip without completely bypassing Hamas but without the cash ending up in the terrorist group’s hands.
He finally came up with an idea to transfer the Qatari grant through a UN operated mechanism, which he was praised for by senior U.S. officials, but Hamas for their part showed Gantz nothing but a figurative middle finger.
Not only did they not laud Gantz for his generosity, they announced that the riots on the fence will continue and even excrabate as the meeting in Washington draws near.
One question now remains: What will Israel do in case dozens of Palestinians get hurt by Israeli fire during violent border riots while Biden hosts Bennett in Washington?