Last Friday, the Hamas-organized demonstrations along Gaza’s border with Israel were the largest and most violent in some time, with protestors throwing Molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers; Sunday, Hamas fired rockets into Israel; on Tuesday, an Islamic State-linked group carried out two suicide bombings in Gaza, killing three Hamas police officers. Michael Milshtein warns that these events, which follow nearly two years of increased violence from the Strip, could be the harbinger of greater unrest to come. But he also cautions that Israel’s options for dealing with Hamas are limited:
[I]t would best if Israel were to drop . . . the idea it can find a solution to the Gaza problem. . . . In practice, there is no willingness or ability on the part of Egypt, the United Nations, or any other local government to step into Hamas’s shoes. [Moreover], although Hamas is [Israel’s] bitter enemy, it may be the lesser of two evils compared with a possible power vacuum that could give rise to anarchy or the ascendance of more extreme forces in the Strip.
[T]here needs to be a long-term plan that has at its core the downfall of Hamas. We should, however, strive to avoid two opposite scenarios—one in which a [new] king is named in Gaza and the other Israel’s total and lengthy direct control of the Strip. Israel must wait for internal change in Gaza, especially by the younger generation, whose distance from Islamic rule only deepens with time and occasionally bursts into civil protests.
Ultimately, Israel needs to understand that it must choose between bad or worse scenarios as a solution to the Gaza issue. Its decisionmakers have to wake up from the dream of easy and quick solutions in either the military or political spheres, . . . and adopt a more patient state of mind.