Hamas’s Role in the Last Six Weeks of Terror

Beginning with a murderous attack in Beer Sheva on March 22, through the stabbing of a police officer in Jerusalem on Sunday night, Israel has faced a wave of attacks that has claimed a total of nineteen lives. The most recent were three civilians killed by a pair of axe- and knife-wielding terrorists in the town of Elad; the victims were survived by sixteen children altogether. While the IDF has officially determined that Hamas did not organize the attacks, Yohanan Tzoreff argues that the terrorist group nonetheless played a major role in the violence, and outlines its goals:

As early as January 2022, Hamas began laying the groundwork for the Ramadan escalation. The organization “warned” against Israeli “attack” on al-Aqsa Mosque. . . . Hamas’s claims lack factual basis, but the organization’s goal was to breathe life into the Palestinian public in the West Bank, the Palestinian diaspora, and Israel in advance of and during the escalation in Ramadan.

[T]he goal set by Hamas for itself was not only opposition to the “occupation,” but also, and perhaps most importantly, the exploitation of the Palestinian Authority’s weakness and the complete failure of the political strategy in the face of the “deal of the century,” [proposed by the Trump administration in 2019].

In May 2021, Hamas was able to connect the Gaza Strip, Jerusalem, and the Arab citizens of Israel through al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy sites in east Jerusalem, and to inspire hope among Palestinians desirous of change. One year later, with the approach of Ramadan, Hamas sought to create an event that would achieve equal results. But the . . . attacks in Beer Sheva and Hadera—and it is not yet clear if there is connection to the desired escalation beyond inspiration—did not elicit waves of mass identification with the terrorists on the part of the [Arab] citizens of Israel. The condemnation heard from all the levels of this sector’s leadership was clear and widespread, effectively preventing the opening of this front.

However, Hamas has gained achievements in three areas. The Palestinian issue, after a resounding absence from the Negev summit [involving Israel and several of its Arab allies] in March, returned to the international agenda; the UN and the international community dealt with what was happening. . . . Jordan, which is more threatened than other Arab countries by the escalation in Jerusalem, reprimanded an envoy from the Israeli embassy and even convened a forum of the Arab League that discussed escalation and condemned Israel. Hamas also illustrated the weakness of the Palestinian Authority and the crumbling Fatah movement, including indications of rebellion in its ranks.

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Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Hamas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror

Iran, America, and the Future of Democracy in the Middle East

Nov. 23 2022

Sixty-two days after the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Islamic Republic’s police, the regime has failed to quash the protest movement. But it is impossible to know if the tide will turn, and what the outcome of the government’s collapse might be. Reuel Marc Gerecht considers the very real possibility that a democratic Iran will emerge, and considers the aftershocks that might follow. (Free registration required.)

American political and intellectual elites remain uneasy with democracy promotion everywhere primarily because it has failed so far in the Middle East, the epicenter of our attention the last twenty years. (Iraq’s democracy isn’t dead, but it didn’t meet American expectations.) Might our dictatorial exception for Middle Eastern Muslims change if Iran were to set in motion insurrections elsewhere in the Islamic world, in much the same way that America’s response to 9/11 probably helped to produce the rebellions against dictatorship that started in Tunisia in 2010? The failure of the so-called Arab Spring to establish one functioning democracy, the retreat of secular democracy in Turkey, and the implosion of large parts of the Arab world have left many wondering whether Middle Eastern Muslims can sustain representative government.

In 1979 the Islamic revolution shook the Middle East, putting religious militancy into overdrive and tempting Saddam Hussein to unleash his bloodiest war. The collapse of Iran’s theocracy might be similarly seismic. Washington’s dictatorial preference could fade as the contradictions between Arab tyranny and Persian democracy grow.

Washington isn’t yet invested in democracy in Iran. Yet, as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has often noted, American hostility toward the Islamic Republic has been damaging. If the theocracy falls, Iranians will surely give America credit—vastly more credit that they will give to the European political class, who have been trying to make nice, and make money, with the clerical regime since the early 1990s—for this lasting enmity. We may well get more credit than we deserve. Both Democrats and Republicans who have dismissed the possibilities of democratic revolutions among the Muslim peoples of the Middle East will still, surely, claim it eagerly.

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Arab democracy, Democracy, Iran, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy