Deterred in Gaza, Hamas Tries New Avenues of Terror

This year the month of Ramadan, which concludes today, was marked by a great deal of violence in Israel—including the shooting of a security guard on Friday. Yet, notes Michael Koplow, the holy month passed far more peacefully than last year, when it saw the outbreak of a ten-day war between the IDF and Hamas, along with violent attacks on Jews in Israeli cities. Koplow argues that the more recent disturbances in fact reflect a deliberate change in strategy by the jihadist group ruling the Gaza Strip, which has learned a hard lesson from the last war:

While Hamas wants quiet in Gaza, events of the past few weeks demonstrate that Hamas is assiduously working to sow chaos everywhere else. Palestinians holed up in al-Aqsa mosque throwing stones and incendiary devices were decked out in Hamas’s green and flying Hamas flags. The IDF and the Palestinian Authority security forces have been arresting Hamas cells across the West Bank. Perhaps most disturbingly, the rocket that was fired into Israel from southern Lebanon on Sunday [April 24] was the work of a Hamas team operating on Lebanese soil.

It is to Hamas’s benefit to shift the battle from Gaza to Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Galilee, and other Israeli locales. Hamas needs time to recover from Israel’s bombardment of its infrastructure and positions a year ago, and also does not want to put Gaza’s reconstruction and economic upswing at risk. Fighting in Gaza is also politically risky for Hamas; on the one hand, there is often a rally-around-the-flag effect that leads to an uptick in Hamas’s popularity immediately following confrontations with Israel, but on the other hand, there is a tipping point at which Palestinians in Gaza will despair of a Hamas approach that leaves them in a permanent state of economic depression and surrounded by rubble.

If Hamas is indeed pivoting, Israeli policy will have to pivot as well. . . . If Hamas is counting on keeping the Gaza front relatively quiet and stable by initiating chaos in other places, Israel may need to rethink its strategy of treating Gaza as a wholly separate entity and begin to treat Hamas and its actions in a more holistic way.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Israel Policy Forum

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israeli Security, Palestinian terror

 

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism