Hamas’s Show of Force in Gaza

On December 28, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and twelve other terrorist groups held massive joint military exercises in the Gaza Strip. Kobi Michael and Yohanan Tzoreff report:

In the large-scale exercise, rockets were launched toward the sea, attacks occurred on simulated IDF positions and included abductions of soldiers; drones and other technologies were displayed. The exercise took place against the backdrop of a severe crisis in Gaza caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the failure of the reconciliation efforts with the Palestinian Authority, Arab countries apparent sidelining of the Palestinian issue, and concerns of another military conflict with Israel.

This display of arms was meant, according to Michael and Tzoreff, to send a message of deterrence to Israel as well as to send a message “to the Palestinian public regarding the importance of unity and the continuation of the resistance to Israel as the forefront of the national struggle.” They add:

Hamas’s military show of force can be seen as an attempt to compensate for weakness vis-à-vis the local population in Gaza and rogue factions. The serious humanitarian plight in the Gaza Strip could fan the flames of popular protest, which, if it spirals out of control, could create suitable conditions for Israel and the Palestinian Authority . . . to retake control of the Gaza Strip and dismantle Hamas’s military infrastructure. The loss of Hamas’s main asset, control of Gaza, could set it back years. It could also critically damage Hamas’s standing as the leader of the “resistance.”

From Israel’s perspective, the exercise held in the Gaza Strip does not have far-reaching military or security implications. Nor does it indicate intentions of escalation on the part of Hamas: organizers are aware of the attention that any demonstration of force attracts in Israel and see the widespread media coverage and accompanying commentary as an achievement.

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Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Israeli Security

 

Why the Leader of Hamas Went to Russia

Sept. 30 2022

Earlier this month, the Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh and several of his colleagues visited Moscow, where they met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russian officials. According to Arabic-language media, Haniyeh came seeking “new ideas” about how to wage war against the Jewish state. The terrorist group has had good relations with the Kremlin for several years, and even maintains an office in Moscow. John Hardie and Ivana Stradner comment on the timing of the visit:

For Moscow, the visit likely reflects a continuation of its efforts to leverage the Palestinians and other issues to pressure Israel over its stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia and Israel built friendly relations in the decades following the Soviet Union’s dissolution. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Jerusalem condemned the war, but made sure to tread carefully in order to preserve working ties with Moscow, lest Russian military forces in Syria disrupt Israel’s strategically important air operations there.

Nevertheless, bilateral tensions spiked in April after Yair Lapid, then serving as Israel’s foreign minister, joined the chorus of voices worldwide accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine. Jerusalem later provided Kyiv with some non-lethal military aid and a field hospital. In response, Moscow hardened its rhetoric about Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian issue isn’t the only way that Russia has sought to pressure Israel. Moscow is also threatening, on seemingly spurious grounds, to shutter the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency.

Moscow likely has little appetite for outright conflict with Israel, particularly when the bulk of Russia’s military is floundering in Ukraine. But there are plenty of other ways that Russia, which maintains an active intelligence presence in the Jewish state, could damage Israel’s interests. As Moscow cozies up with Hamas, Iran, and other enemies of Israel, Jerusalem—and its American allies—would do well to keep a watchful eye.

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Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Russia