The Gaza Jungle: Hamas is Under Stress and Other Predators Smell It

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The Gaza Jungle: Hamas is Under Stress and Other Predators Smell It

According to reports, a senior Hamas terror militant was killed in a military attack that took place a couple of days ago in Sudan. The Sudanese Government blames the attack on Israel.

Sources say that the person who was killed was Abd al Latif Alashkar “The Blonde” a senior leader within Hamas’ weapon smuggling system. “The Blonde” is the translation of “Alashkar,” yet this specific person, in his early 30’s, was totally not blonde (Alashkar, according to some information, replaced Mahmud Almabhuh, a senior Hamas leader that was killed in Dubai in January 2011. According to reports, Almanbhuh was killed by Israeli Mossad agents). Hamas denies reports of Alashkar’s death and claims that he is whole and well. Yet, a couple of days after the denial, Hamas – deliberately, knowingly and intentionally – fired a missile on an Israeli school bus in Shaar HaNegev. Hamas claimed responsibility for the bus attack.

Hamas is deliberately, intentionally and constantly attacking Israeli civilians and Israeli cities. Thousands of rockets and mortar shells have been launched over the past few years by Hamas’ terror wing – these rockets are aimed at Israeli cities. Therefore, in that context, the attack of Hamas on the school bus is part of Hamas’ war crimes. Yet, the attack on the school bus was somewhat atypical to Hamas’ terror methods. Since the Israeli military operation “Cast Lead” (the beginning of 2009), Hamas has very carefully calculated its methods, its timing and the types of weapons it uses to attack Israeli targets, both civilian as well as military.

Hamas’ attack on the school bus evoked strong international condemnation. In response, Hamas announced that they didn’t mean to attack the school bus but rather they meant to attack an “Israeli Military target.” The assault weapon used by Hamas in the attack on the school bus was a high precision anti-tank missile. It is very difficult to confuse a military target such as a tank or an armored carrier with a bright yellow school bus, the international symbol for a school bus carrying children that is brightly colored and marked very clearly. Thus, it is more reasonable to believe that Hamas, as they have many times before, is simply lying.

The attack purposely and deliberately targeted the school bus. The Question is: Why?

The attack on the school bus is an expression of the increasing frustration within Hamas stemming from a series of painful punches that Hamas has sustained recently in Gaza and elsewhere, mostly by losing some of its key senior militants. Hamas – and not for the first time – is trying to diminish the impact of these hits. Yet the impact is apparently substantial.

Following the formidable hits they have sustained over recent weeks, Hamas’ military wing has come to the conclusion that it is time to rehabilitate its capacity to deter Israeli attacks (because of Israeli fear of reprisal), a deterrent that has been diminished. Therefore, Hamas’ military leadership in Gaza ordered its military wing to send a message to Israel that the recent hits were too much for Hamas to endure and that Israel’s attempt to deter Hamas by taking out its senior militants is not acceptable to them. The attack on the Israeli school bus was that message.

The violent round of fighting that was initiated by Hamas last weekend was encouraged by the Hamas leadership in Damascus, disregarding the position of the Hamas government in Gaza. It is part of the inner struggle between the extreme Hamas leadership in Damascu sand the Hamas leadership in Gaza that stands for a more relatively practical line.

But, as happens quite often, the violent round spun out of control. Hamas quickly found itself spinning out of control as an outcome of the deterioration of the situation last weekend. That was not what Hamas had in mind. The decisive Israeli retaliation to the bus attack resulted, as expected, in rockets attacks by Hamas and Islamic Jihad on Israeli cities.

An unpleasant surprise awaited Hamas and the Islamic Jihad — “the Iron Dome.”

The Iron Dome is an Israeli-made anti rocket system that was successfully intercepting rockets that were supposed to hit the Israeli cities and urban areas. That system is sophisticated. It can calculate the course of the rocket while airborne, and define the location of impact. Thus, the system can intercept rockets that are expected to hit urban areas and it ignores the rockets that will hit unpopulated areas. Moreover, the system can simultaneously intercept multi rocket attacks. Watch the successful interception of two rockets that were fired at the city of Ashkelon

As its rockets are being intercepted by Israel on the one hand, and its militant casualties are increasing on the other hand, Hamas rushes to ask for an immediate ceasefire, begging the Arab world to generate an immediate ceasefire.

A second bitter surprise awaited Hamas. The Arab world didn’t rush to its aid. In fact, the message that came from the Arab world was clear: “While Arabs are dying in the streets ofSyria,Yemen,Libya, etc. fighting for a better future, we have no time, no energy and no willingness to save your skin because of your radical irresponsible policy.” More cynical Arabs suggested Hamas to urge its masters, the Syrian regime and the Iranian Mullah regime, to rush to its aid.

Hamas and its masters, the Assad Syrian regime and the Iranian Mullah regime, are under a lot of stress themselves. The Assad regime is trying to oppress the uprising of the Syrian people, brutally killing Syrian protesters. Some of the Syrian protests turned violent as weapons were used by the rebelling Syrians against the regime’s forces. Pieces of information coming fromSyriaindicate the practical involvement of the Iranian militia called “Basij,” (the same militia that brutally oppressed the inner opposition inIran) in the oppression of the Syrian uprising. According to some sources, Iranian snipers that were involved in killing Syrian protestors in the city ofDara’a, in order to subdue the protests, were captured by the Syrian protesters. They were then interrogated and allegedly admit that they were paid $20,000 to shoot protestors.

As the Syrian uprising spreads, the Syrian regime is becoming more and more brutal as it is trying desperately to put out the fire, and the number of Syrian civilians casualties are increasing. Accordingly, the animosity of the Syrians towards the Iranian Mullah Shiite regime, the ally of the Assad Alawai minority that rulesSyriafor half a century, is increasing. Syrian protestors scream time and again: “NoIran, No Hezbollah.”

As the tension rises inSyria, the Hamas leadership that enjoys the warm hug and hospitality of the Syrian regime, while devotedly serving the Iranian Mullah regime’s master plan, starts to move uncomfortably in its seats. Some people in the Arab world wonder if the Hamas leadership inDamascuswasn’t actually encouraging the Hamas military wing inGazato ignite the recent military round withIsraelas an attempt to divert the international and Arab intention form the events inSyriaand to save the Assad regime. That assumption clearly increases the feelings of anger and animosity of many Syrians towards the Hamas leadership inDamascus.

And if all that is not enough, the Iranians and their radical proxies have another reason to be stressed. The success of the Israeli-made interceptive system that shields tanks against missile strikes; called “The Trophy” deeply embarrasses the Iranians and their proxies – Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc.

The tactical and strategic structure and modus operandi ofIran’s proxies are completely based upon two things – rockets aimed at Israeli cities and missiles aimed at Israeli tanks. These weapons are the military spine of these radical organizations and their masters, the Syrian and the Iranian regime. The operational success of these two Israeli interceptive systems, “Iron Dome” intercepting rockets strikes on cities and “The Trophy” intercepting missile strikes on tanks, pulls the rug out from beneath the feet of these radical factors.

The Iranians will mostly try to overcome the challenge of the interceptive systems and try to compensate for their diminished ability resulting from the operational success of these Israeli interceptive systems by doing the following two things. They will supply their proxies with more weapons while substantially increasing the amount and variety of rockets, and they will also increase their efforts to provide their proxies with more sophisticated advanced weapon systems.

There is an important note that should be made in the context of the Israeli “Iron Dome” system. In some Arab media, the performance of the system during the recent violent round was presented as a “failure.” The reason for that impression is the fact the system did not intercept most of the incoming rockets. Yet, this fact is wrongly interpreted by these Arab media outlets. The “Iron Dome” system did not intercept most of the rockets because the system was accurately calculating that these rockets would not hit populated areas, thus the system intentionally was not intercepting these rockets. The failure of the system in some Arab eyes was actually the proof of the success of the system.

At the end of the day, the last round of violence that was initiated by Hamas in order to rehabilitate its deterrent capacity proved to be totally counterproductive. Hamas comes out of that round in a worse position then the when they started.

The last round harmed Hamas in different ways: It revealed their military vulnerability. Their rocket attacks on Israeli cities (in Hamas’ perspective) resulted in relatively poor results. These attacks were strongly condemned by the international community. Many Hamas militants were killed. Unfortunately, some innocent civilians, whom Hamas, as usual, used as human shields were also killed. This loss of life and the renewed violence caused by Hamas, after a relative period of calm, caused the increasing resentment of the people ofGazatowards Hamas to surface again. And finally, to add more insult to injury, the Israeli attacks onGazawere barely covered by the Arab Media, including in AlJazeera and AlArabiya, the two leading Arab news networks whose coverage of previous rounds was clearly biased and served Hamas’ narratives and interests. The stress they were under and the pressure that they felt were clearly expressed in their desperate calls for an immediate ceasefire.

And perhaps the most important – the Arab world sent clear message to Hamas: “We’re sick and tired of your irresponsible policy and behavior.” As Arabs are engaged in the enormous effort to rebuild their own society and to design a better future, they have less and less energy, willingness and resources to support Hamas’ irresponsible policies.

Two events that took place within the last two days signal the crisis Hamas is experiencing. An Al-Qaida affiliated group inGazakidnapped and executed an Italian citizen that had been living inGazastrip for the last couple of years. This person was a passionate advocate for Hamas and the people ofGaza. Ironically, this man had a tattoo on his arm that said “Almukawama,” the Arabic word meaning: “The Resistance.” That term is a major key word in theMiddle East. “Almukawama” is a comprehensive ideology, but one of its major and core values is the non compromising fight against The State of Israel by all means possible (mostly terror) untilIsraelis wiped off the map. Apparently, being a strong advocate for the people ofGazaand the leadership of Hamas and to pledge yourself to Almukawama is not enough of a life insurance policy.

The second event took place yesterday (Friday) evening (Israeltime) when two rockets that were launched fromGazalanded in open areas next to the Israeli city ofAshdod. The shooting came after a few days during which calm was maintained in the area after last weekend’s violent round. The calmness is attributed to the fact that the Palestinian militant organizations that operate inGazaagreed to meet Hamas’ demand that they stop shooting rockets.

Obviously the shooting of the two rockets indicates that some of the Palestinian factors openly defy Hamas wishes and interests. This defiance indicates that the other militant Palestinian factors sense that Hamas is under stress. And the Gaza Jungle is a dangerous place — the other predators smell your stress.

Hamas will have to move fast to regain its control overGaza, and past experience indicates that this will not be a smooth path.

In the summer of 2009 Hamas did not hesitate to crush violently another Radical Islamic Militant group called “Junud Ansar Allah,” that was operating in southernGaza. The leader of that group, Abu Nur Almakdasi, a family physician by profession, openly defied Hamas’ rule by declaring the establishment of an Islamic Emirate inGaza. Hamas responded quickly and brutally – after massive battles during which dozens of rockets where shot by Hamas targeting the main Mosque of the group and the surrounding residential neighborhoods, the group was smashed. Dozens of people were killed during the heavy fighting, including innocent civilians.

And finally, inevitably, that round has of course the Iranian aspect. As I have said before, the Iranian Mullah regime is not interested in a massive collision now. The Iranian regime is focused on the mission of developing its ability to have nuclear military capability. Nuclear ability is the key component in the realization of the Iranian Mullah regime’s vision to become the regional – and later the global – superpower. A key component of that vision is the creation of the Shi’ite crescent and within that crescent, building a strangling loop aroundIsrael’s neck. The Iranian Mullah regime wants to execute this plan according to the terms, timing and pace that it decides. Therefore, the Iranian regime orders its proxies to keep the flame low for now. Now – as far as the Iranian Mullah regime is concerned – is not the right time to raise the flames. Not yet. The time will come.

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Avi Melamed
Avi Melamed
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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