(Editor’s Note: The views are that of the author’s. For the writer’s other interests, read the credit line at the end of the article.)
By Abhishek Ranjan
Israel and Palestine are in constant conflict since Israel was established to provide Jews with their own land after they suffered genocide and trauma in Nazi-ruled Germany.
Arabs rejected the initial mandates of the United Nations, and they attacked Israel in failed attempts to grab the entire territory.
Later, Palestinians were again provided with solutions, but they either rejected it or if their leader wished to agree, they were eliminated by the extremist outfits of Palestine.
However, again, with peace deals between Arab countries and Israel being signed in the recent years, there was a chance for peace in the region. This could have led to some collective effort by these countries for the Palestine cause.
On the other hand, there was no sign of serious conflict between Israel and Palestine since the 2014 Gaza war. Then, the conflict was an outcome of rocket attacks on Israel by ‘Hamas’ that de facto controls Gaza. Hamas’ provocative military action has been a reaction to Israel’s operation to arrest the militant leaders of the outfit after innocent Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered.
Nonetheless, things have again taken an ugly turn, and conflict has erupted between Israel and the Palestinian ‘Hamas’. This time, the conflict is primarily because of the fear of eviction of Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah.
Riots broke out between the Arabs and Jews near Al-Aqsa mosque. Police did use stun grenades to control the riots but at the same time, the Israel administration also delayed the eviction plans and rerouted the parade of Jewish nationalists.
However, the riot turned into a war-like situation after Hamas, the Islamist militant outfit, attempt at growing its support among Palestinian with just a few months to go for elections. Along with Palestine Islamic Jihad, Hamas launched rockets on Israeli cities on the pretext of defending the Al-Aqsa mosque.
Now, the question is, why did Hamas jump into escalating a riot-like situation despite knowing well that it has no military capability or capacity to match that of the Israel Defence Force?
To answer this, it is crucial to understand Hamas, its ideology, and intentions. Hamas has its origins in Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood movement with an initial goal to liberate entire Palestine (West Bank, Gaza, and the Modern State of Israel) and establish an Islamic state.
Hamas has significantly increased its influence amongst the Palestinians and went on two win the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections and subsequently became the de-facto ruler of the Gaza after 2007.
Hamas is also hostile to Fatah, and his 85-year-old leader Mahmoud Abbas, who bet heavily on negotiations with Israel. Looking at the current situation, when elections in Palestine have been postponed, and few more months are left before elections are held, Hamas is trying to consolidate its position among the Palestinians.
Undoubtedly, Hamas stands nowhere when compared to the technologically advanced Israeli armed forces. Still, Hamas believes that it can give a tough fight to Israel, considering its previous experiences.
Hamas was also aware of the fact that the counterattack from Israel will destroy Gaza. Still, it will provide a fertile ground for Hamas to propagate itself as the real hero of Palestine and the only challenger to Israel in Gaza.
Besides, the win in the election for Hamas has become more important due to changing international and regional scenario in the Middle East (or West Asia as some would like to call this region), starting from the Abraham peace accord that facilitated a truce between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, and to the peace deals between Israel and other Arab countries.
In this light, Hamas gets isolated, and its economic growth is constrained. Nothing but becoming a legitimate Palestinian authority can provide them with economic relief as well as more negotiating capabilities and get rid of the looming possibilities of being banned as a terrorist organisation after the United States brought a resolution to ban it in 2018.
Besides, the growing possibility of peace over Palestine due to reconciliation between Arab countries and Israel will challenge the existence of Hamas.
When the other two prominent parties Likud and Fateh are weaker than ever before, it provides Hamas with the opportunities to strengthen itself in the region. It doesn’t matter, even if it comes at the cost of innocent civilians of Palestine.
Moreover, if Hamas is hell-bent on spurring the violence and waging war against Israel at any cost, “Israel has the right to defend itself.”
(The writer is a Research Scholar at the School of International Relations, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. The article is being published under the ‘Young Researchers Programme’ of National Interest Foundation of India.)