Hamas’s Success, and Its Fatal Miscalculation https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/israel-zionism/2023/10/hamass-success-and-its-fatal-miscalculation/

October 9, 2023 | Haviv Rettig Gur
About the author: Haviv Rettig Gur is the senior analyst for the Times of Israel.

In the past two days, the Gaza-based terrorist group achieved its greatest tactical success to date, bringing about the bloodiest day in Israel’s history. Haviv Rettig Gur examines various theories about Hamas’s present motivations, and observes that even if they have some merit, they miss the central purpose of this orgy of bloodshed:

Palestinian “resistance,” as conceived by Hamas, is about much more than settlements, occupation, or the Green Line [that demarcated Israel’s western border after 1949]. A larger theory of Islamic renewal is at work. As he announced the start of Saturday’s attack, the Hamas military commander Muhammad Deif said it was meant to disrupt a planned Israeli demolition of al-Aqsa Mosque. And when the Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh called on Saturday for “every Muslim everywhere and all the free people of the world to stand in this just battle in defense of al-Aqsa and the prophet’s mission,” he meant just that, that the fight was over holy things, over Islam’s redemptive promise.

This reclamation of Islamic dignity through the ultimate defeat of the Jews occupies a great deal of Hamas’s political thought, permeates its rhetoric, and profoundly shapes its thinking about Israeli Jews and its strategy in facing Israel. Israel is more than a mere occupier or oppressor in this narrative, it is a rebellion against God and the divinely ordained trajectory of history. And by showing Israelis in their weakness, the thinking goes, Israelis are somehow actually made weak. Redemption requires only the faith of its believers to be fulfilled, and seeing is believing.

The footage from Saturday, the snuff videos shared gleefully by Hamas supporters, including in some Western far-left circles, weren’t an aberration. Hamas gunmen didn’t get “carried away,” as some explained. They were the essence of the whole enterprise. They were Hamas’s basic message to Israelis: that they weren’t being killed and kidnapped just for tactical advantage in the struggle for Palestinian independence, but rather were being humiliated and dehumanized as traitors against God.

At the same, time, Gur explains, Hamas has made a grave miscalculation:

A wounded, weakened Israel is a fiercer Israel. Hamas was once a tolerable threat. It just made itself an intolerable one, all while convincing Israelis they are too vulnerable and weak to respond with the old restraint.

Read more on Times of Israel: https://www.timesofisrael.com/a-wounded-weakened-israel-is-a-fiercer-one/