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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Hamas’ Interests in Violence and the Conflict with Israel

Filed under: Hamas

Hamas’ Interests in Violence and the Conflict with Israel
Rockets over Gaza (Arab press)
  • Hamas is exploiting the limitations on Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip to the fullest extent.
  • It is aiming to achieve international recognition through dialogue with Western elements on restoring calm, broadening the balance of terror with Israel, strengthening its military power structure, and progressing toward its goal of gaining control of the PLO and Palestinian institutions.
  • Hamas will also receive very large contributions from Qatar.

The Al-Risalah journal website, which identifies with Hamas, reported (May 6, 2019) in its main headline, “Organizations of the struggle have insisted on their conditions, and the calm is coming into force.”1

This announcement sums up, from Hamas’ point of view, three days of warfare in a round of conflict between Israel and a coalition of Palestinian terror organizations in the Gaza Strip, led by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.

What Are Hamas’ Motives?

  • Squeeze concessions out of Israel with regard to the embargo on Gaza, which would allow the economic situation to improve, enable the entrance of goods that could also be used for military purposes, and strengthen the armed capabilities of Hamas and the other organizations.
  • Achieve international recognition of Hamas as a legitimate and responsible government. The rounds of conflict with Israel require an international dialogue with Hamas via the representatives of Western countries and the United Nations. This way, these countries grant implied recognition of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip. Hamas is pulling strings until the end of the current conflict to influence international public opinion while exploiting the timing of the forthcoming Eurovision Song Contest in Israel. Hamas is careful not to cross the red line with the European countries, and it is utilizing this to present itself as a responsible diplomatic element that is open to dialogue.
  • The creation of an intensified threat of terror against Israel through massive rocket bombardments of Israeli communities, increased ranges of the rockets being launched, anti-tank missile attacks on Israeli civilian and military vehicles on roads in the Gaza periphery, and the use of rockets with an especially powerful capability for destruction (explosives weighing 200 kg).
  • The exploitation of Israeli limitations. Hamas believes that Israel has no interest in occupying the Gaza Strip. In fact, Israel is interested in maintaining the division in the Palestinian arena between the Fatah-led government in Judea and Samaria and the Hamas government in Gaza. From the perspective of Hamas, in these circumstances, the rounds of hostilities are not endangering its rule. Rather, they are providing an opportunity to put pressure on Israel and to reinforce its deterrent against Israel during any future attempt to scuttle the American “Deal of the Century” to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Taking over the PLO. The rounds of hostilities are increasing the domestic challenges of the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria, as part of an effort to upset its rule. At the same time, the hostility is putting pressure on the Fatah leadership to agree to Hamas conditions so that Hamas can take control of the PLO and its organizational institutions. In the end, Hamas seeks to strengthen its representation within the Palestinian people.

By Hamas’ calculations, the continuation of the conflict with Israel will change through “popular struggle,” which is effectively an ongoing war of attrition fought by Hamas’ “civilians” and includes acts of violence and the limited use of firearms.

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