Rocket attacks on Israel: Why Hamas has an interest in keeping Gaza quiet
Rocket attacks near the Israeli towns of Sderot and Eilat have raised concerns of escalating Israel-Hamas tensions. But while Hamas could be a potential spoiler in peace talks, it also has an interest in avoiding a fresh clash.
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Fresh clash could redirect criticism toward Hamas
Hamas used the uptick in violence to denounce the Palestinian Authority (PA) headed by Mahmoud Abbas, who just received the backing of the Arab League to enter direct peace talks with Israel. The league's backing was meant to give President Abbas political cover to move ahead despite the fact that Israel has so far refused to meet Palestinian preconditions for such talks.Skip to next paragraph
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"Our people in Gaza are paying a toll for the huge error and political sin committed by the Arab Peace Initiative’s follow-up committee against the Palestinian people,’’ said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, the Palestinian news website Maan reported. "The committee has given the Israeli occupation the pretext and coverage they needed to attack our people and continue with settlement activities and displacement.’’
"Things are going their way on the political level. Hamas knows it has a lot of support internationally," says Jamil Rabah, who runs a polling research firm based in Ramallah, the West Bank headquarters of the PA.
Mr. Rabah adds that Hamas realizes that a fresh clash in Gaza could redirect domestic criticism, now focused on the PA, back toward itself.
"They know that the Palestinian Authority isn’t very popular in the West Bank, so their best bet is to strengthen their grip in Gaza [and] maintain their [political] position," he says.
Reminder of Hamas veto power?
Some Israeli analysts believe that Hamas’s tolerance of the attacks is meant to signal to Israel, the US, and the Palestinian government in Ramallah that they have veto power over any agreement.
"Hamas seems left out because Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization seem headed toward direct talks, and [Hamas] wants to highlight its role as a spoiler," says Meir Javedanfar, a Middle East analyst based in Tel Aviv. "It’s in order to say that ... their importance should not be overlooked."
- Hamas attacks: A bid to scuttle direct talks?
- Breakthrough? Abbas gets Arab backing to enter Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
- Briefing: The motives and aims of Hamas