Hamas Is Stuck In A Catch 22 Of Its Own Making With New Gaza Chaos | USA-TODAY

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Hamas is stuck in a Catch 22 of its own making with new Gaza chaos, Originally published in USA-Today | January 27 2023, as well as in more than 200 newspapers (online & print) across North America.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

In December, in preparation for celebrating the 35th anniversary of Hamas’ establishment, the group once again focused its efforts on creating the perfect storm to achieve its goal of annihilating Israel, yet this time with less of its fingerprints and a strategy the group felt would focus away from the Gaza Strip and help to achieve its two political strategic objectives: to secure itself as the unquestionable leader of the Palestinians and to position itself as a reliable regional player.

With a then-expected, now installed, formation of Israel’s most right-wing government in history, a deepening inner-Palestinian crisis and escalating power struggle over Mahmoud Abbas’ successor, and the increasing criticism of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority on the Palestinian street, Hamas felt that it could accomplish two objectives at once — harm Israel and deepen its influence in the Palestinian Authority-controlled area, by fomenting further clashes in the West Bank.

Hamas is stuck in a Catch 22 of its own making with new Gaza chaos, Originally published in USA-Today | January 27 2023, as well as in more than 200 newspapers (online & print) across North America.

Yesterday that plan took on new steam when Israeli counterterrorism operations in Jenin initiated a round of rockets from Gaza and an Israeli retaliatory strike on Hamas’ military infrastructure.

As most people who have followed the news over the last three and a half decades know, one of Hamas’ core ideological and political values and operational objectives is to violently eliminate Israel. This is an ideology known in Arabic as Al-Muqawamah al-Musallah — “The Armed Resistance.” Under this banner, Hamas has initiated violent round after round with Israel since its initial formation.

Hamas’ extremism and its unwavering pursuit of this objective has brought death and destruction to Gaza since it took control of the Strip in 2007, and its cycle of violence and despair has created a bleak future for the Palestinians who live under Hamas’ control.

With each round of Hamas-initiated violence, Gaza sinks further into despair, and the recovery time takes longer. Its residents suffer from economic hardship, and over the past few years, Israel has stepped in to provide work visas to thousands of Gazans so that they can work in Israel and support their families.

These are just some of the reasons, an increasing number of Palestinians, as well as growing circles in the Arab world are starting to hold Hamas accountable for its actions and for the dismal reality in Gaza.

Whenever violence escalates in the West Bank, whether supported and fomented by Hamas overtly or covertly, the group’s military establishment, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, pressures Hamas’ political leadership to open a second front against Israel. This puts Hamas in a very difficult position where on hand if it stays neutral, Palestinians and the Arab world will criticize its lack of support for its Palestinian brethren, an opportunistic manipulator who when push comes to shove stays on the sidelines, a criticism which compromises its position as the defender of the Palestinians. On the other hand, if it continues to escalate, thereby preserving its image of serving as the defender of the Palestinians, it proves that its power is centered within its military wing, and thereby will make it harder to market itself as a reasonable regional player with allies within the Arab world and the west.

That issue is further compounded by the existence of other paramilitary groups in Gaza, and particularly the second largest paramilitary power in Gaza Strip the Islamic Jihad in Palestine, who represent a potential challenger to Hamas power, and to the perception of Hamas’ total control in Gaza. If IJIP escalates, Israel will counter, and if IJIP were to openly challenge Hamas for failing to join the fight, it would create a nightmare scenario for Hamas.

Based on my analysis, I don’t see Israel and Hamas as being interested in expanding upon the recent flair of hostilities, and accordingly, it is likely we will not witness further escalation this time around. But all the ingredients for the next burst of violence are there.

Hamas is stuck in a Catch 22 of its own making with new Gaza chaos | Originally published in USA-Today - article by Avi Melamed
The article was also published in the BERGEN RECORD printed version | 05 February 2023
The Bergen Record has the second largest circulation of New Jersey’s daily newspapers. It has 2,391,428 readers (print + online).

Hamas is stuck in a Catch 22 of its own making with new Gaza chaos, Originally published in USA-Today | January 27 2023, as well as in more than 200 newspapers (online & print) across North America.

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Avi Melamed
Avi Melamedhttps://insidethemiddle-east.com
Avi Melamed is an expert on current affairs in the Arab & Muslim World and their impact on Israel & the Middle East. A former Israeli Intelligence Official & Senior Official on Arab Affairs, Fluent in Arabic, English, and Hebrew, he has held high-risk Government, Senior Advisory, Intelligence & Counter-Terrorist intelligence positions in Arab cities & communities - often in very sensitive times - on behalf of Israeli Government agencies. He is the Founder & CEO of Inside the Middle East | Intelligence Perspectives - an apolitical non-partisan curriculum using intelligence methodology to examine the Middle East. As an Author, Educator, Expert, and Strategic Intelligence Analyst, Avi provides Intelligence Analysis, Briefings, and Geopolitical Tours to diplomats, Israeli and foreign policymakers, global media outlets, and a wide variety of international businesses, organizations, and private clients on a range of Israel and Middle East Affairs.

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