Hamas Expected Israeli Restraint. It Got Something Else

The IDF’s takeover of al-Shifa hospital is a sign of the speed at which the ground offensive has thus far progressed—although many challenges await, and the hostages have not yet been freed. But Israel’s relative success raises an obvious question: what did Hamas expect to happen, and what did it hope to achieve in the October 7 attacks? Now that some of the terrorist group’s plans and documents have been seized, a better sense is emerging. Yossi Kuperwasser explains:

Hamas likely believed that had Israel subscribed to a small-scale [retaliation], it could build on the success of October 7 and effect a change that would result in a new “equation” between the organization and the Jewish state. Meaning, the release of the imprisoned terrorists, lifting the blockade, and stopping the normalization process between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Hamas assessed that Israel’s weakness and its problematic relations with the United States, coupled with its inherent reluctance to pay the high price involved in a broad military operation to remove Hamas from Gaza, would ultimately prevent it from completely defeating Hamas, just like in previous flare-ups. In previous rounds, whenever the fighting ended, both sides licked their wounds, but Hamas would then quickly recover and posed a threat to the Gaza area and Israel as a whole.

All actions by Hamas, Iran and its proxies (Hizballah, the Houthis, and Shiite militias in Iraq), Qatar, and Turkey should be seen in the context of the attempt to persuade President Joe Biden to pressure Israel to stop the fighting and eventually adopt an alternative approach. This effort motivates them to create the impression that there is a severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza. It is what made Hamas play a cynical game with the hostages, and this is also what has prompted the Shiite militias in Iraq to step up their actions.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict