Hamas’s Leaders May Genuinely Want a Cease-Fire with Israel

Despite numerous efforts, backed by Egypt and other regional powers, the Palestinian Authority (PA), which governs parts of the West Bank, and Hamas, which governs Gaza, have been unable to come to any sort of mutual understanding. Meanwhile, writes Ehud Yaari, Jerusalem seems close to arriving at a long-term cease-fire with Hamas, even as the PA president Mahmoud Abbas is making ever-more-persistent threats to end relations with Israel. Yaari explains Hamas’s motivations:

Since becoming the top Hamas leader in Gaza two years ago, Yahya al-Sinwar has concluded that the group cannot afford an all-out military escalation with Israel, let alone achieve its demands for a free sea- and air-port in the Strip by that route. He spent 22 years in Israeli jails, speaks fluent Hebrew, and follows the Israeli media religiously, so he understands that Netanyahu’s response to another major confrontation would be far more devastating than Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Meanwhile, Hamas has lost most of its cross-border attack tunnels into Israel and is struggling to maintain its rocket arsenal after Egypt cut its smuggling routes through the Sinai Peninsula.

Given these military disadvantages and the PA’s refusal to shoulder responsibility for Gaza’s economic crisis, Sinwar has decided to build his strategy upon the Israeli leadership’s clear preference for containment over war. Backed by the Israel Defense Forces general staff, Netanyahu has repeatedly signaled his readiness to help ease Gaza’s humanitarian crisis once calm is restored. . . .

Today, both sides want a ceasefire. Netanyahu has received growing domestic criticism for his restraint, while Sinwar was excoriated for sending teenagers and unarmed demonstrators to be killed or injured. Both would like to silence their detractors by ending the [fighting].

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Palestinian Authority, Yahya Sinwar

 

How to Turn Palestinian Public Opinion Away from Terror

The Palestinian human-rights activist Bassem Eid, responding to the latest survey results of the Palestinian public, writes:

Not coincidentally, support for Hamas is much higher in the West Bank—misgoverned by Hamas’s archrivals, the secular nationalist Fatah, which rules the Palestinian Authority (PA)—than in Gaza, whose population is being actively brutalized by Hamas. Popular support for violence persists despite the devastating impact that following radical leaders and ideologies has historically had on the Palestinian people, as poignantly summed up by Israel’s Abba Eban when he quipped that Arabs, including the Palestinians, “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

Just as worrying is the role of propaganda and misinformation, which are not unique to the Palestinian context but are pernicious there due to the high stakes involved. Misinformation campaigns, often fueled by Hamas and its allies, have painted violent terrorism as the only path to dignity and rights for Palestinians. Palestinian schoolbooks and public media are rife with anti-Semitic and jihadist content. Hamas’s allies in the West have matched Hamas’s genocidal rhetoric with an equally exterminationist call for the de-normalization and destruction of Israel.

It’s crucial to consider successful examples of de-radicalization from other regional contexts. After September 11, 2001, Saudi Arabia implemented a comprehensive de-radicalization program aimed at rehabilitating extremists through education, psychological intervention, and social reintegration. This program has had successes and offers valuable lessons that could be adapted to the Palestinian context.

Rather than pressure Israel to make concessions, Eid argues, the international community should be pressuring Palestinian leaders—including Fatah—to remove incitement from curricula and stop providing financial rewards to terrorists.

Read more at Newsweek

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion