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How Come Hamas Attacked Israel

How Come Hamas Attacked Israel?

Since Israel evacuated its military outposts and forcefully expelled 9,000 Israeli settlers from the region in 2005, there have been four wars and frequent outbreaks of violence between Hamas militants in Gaza.

Hamas–Israel attack 2023

Every time Hamas has fired rockets at Israel or committed other provocations, Israel has responded by heavily bombing the Gaza Strip in retribution. However, Hamas appears to consider this to be part of conducting business.

Hamas' need to keep an eye on its flanks is a significant motivator for violence. Other smaller, more extreme groups, such Palestinian Islamic Jihad, are challenging its rule in Gaza.

These factions have occasionally conducted rocket assaults against Israel on their own, which result in retaliation throughout the whole region.

The Israeli administration led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also the most right-wing in the country's history. This administration has been open about wanting to annex the West Bank and has allowed for the substantial growth of Jewish communities there that are against international law.

Young Palestinians from the West Bank have created a loose organisation called the "Lions' Den" during the past year. This has led to confrontation between settlers and them.

The Palestinian Authority, which oversees the West Bank and is headed by the elderly Mahmoud Abbas, has little regard for this coalition of autonomous militants who appear to be operating without a central command. In the region, the Palestinian Authority doesn't really hold much power in terms of administration, security, or morality.

The "Lions' Den" competes with violent Gazan organisations for young support both in Gaza and the West Bank.

Additionally, Itamar Ben-Gvir, a minister in Netanyahu's government, recently travelled to the Temple Mount, which is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam's holiest sites. Both in the West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinians viewed this as a provocation. Israeli visitors also visited the location during the most recent Sukkot holiday, further infuriating Palestinians.

Most people agree that the Second Intifada, which lasted from 2000 to 2005, was started by Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount in 2000. At the time, Sharon was the head of the opposition in the Israeli government.

Jordan is in charge of keeping the Al-Aqsa shrine complex as per an arrangement that dates back to when Israel was founded. When it ratified the Israeli-Jordanian peace deal in 1994, Israel sought to respect Jordan's position. However, Palestinians view the visits by Israeli officials and visitors who are not Muslims as disrespectful of the site's sacredness and in opposition to this initiative.

Hamas has also said that these trips have resulted in the degradation of the Al-Aqsa site, an allegation made ostensibly in an effort to win over Muslims in the Arab and larger Islamic worlds.

Why launch an attack right now?

Importantly, Hamas has given its operation the moniker "Operation Al-Aqsa Flood". This sheds some light on the main motivation behind the timing of the attack, which underscores what Hamas perceives as Israeli defilement of a sacred Islamic place.

However, as indicated by the 2020 Abraham Accords, which included the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco, another driving force was probably the growing propensity of Arab governments to reach peace deals with Israel.

This also lessens pressure on Israel to achieve a solution with the Palestinians, which is of considerable concern to all Palestinians, not just those in the West Bank. In his public remarks, Netanyahu has made it obvious that he values a lasting peace with Arab nations more than a final settlement with the Palestinians.

Although Hamas does not recognise Israel, it has stated that if Israel returned to its 1967 boundaries, a truce would be observed. Israel is unlikely to heed Hamas' assurances and comply with their demand for a withdrawal. But if Saudi Arabia reached its own agreement with Israel, there would be much less possibility that requirement would ever be met.

The time also almost perfectly matches the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Yom Kippur or Ramadan War in October 1973, when Egypt and Syria jointly attacked Israel. Hamas would be aware of the importance of a Palestinian entity being able to surprise Israel similarly.

Hamas had a number of goals in mind when they decided to attack at this time, and they may have combined some of them.

However, Hamas is unlikely to get much in the way of financial support from the larger Arab world. Saudi Arabia would likely delay normalising relations with Israel for the time being due to Hamas' military operation. However, it is doubtful that any of the Arab nations who have ratified the Abraham Accords will do so at this time in protest of Israel's response to the Gaza Strip.

Where does the conflict stand?

It's uncertain where the battle is going. Israeli outposts in the north have already come under fire from the terrorist Hezbollah organisation in Lebanon. Its sponsorship by Iran will determine how far it gets engaged, though.

In general, it has been assumed that Tehran wants to reserve Hezbollah's powerful rocket and missile capabilities in case Israel attacks Iran's nuclear installations.

The possibility of a third front against Israel being opened up by "Lions' Den" terrorists in the West Bank also has to be considered. Attacks on Jewish Israelis by Arab Israelis residing in Israel might constitute a fourth front.

There is no doubt that Israel will finally overcome these difficulties since President Joe Biden has already pledged his support for the Jewish state. Netanyahu predicted a protracted conflict, but if Israel carries out its threat in full, it could turn out to be very brief.

The fact that an undetermined number of Israeli nationals have been abducted by Hamas terrorists and transported to the strip will be the biggest obstacle to Israeli action against Gaza. Israeli bombardment without discrimination would undoubtedly endanger their lives.

Israel will be hesitant to send its defence troops into Gaza due to the possibility of suffering significant losses. However, if it receives information on the whereabouts of its abducted nationals, it could dispatch special troops.

Israeli reaction also runs the danger of alienating the West if its attack on Gaza is too severe. But up until this point, Western countries have been staunchly in favour of Israel and hostile to Hamas.

The overarching lesson for Israel is that it needs to create a strategy for controlling the Palestinians who reside in its territory.

For many years, the Israeli government has found comfort in the existing scenario, which sees hardline terrorists held in Gaza while Israeli authorities restrain the behaviour of Palestinians residing in Israel and the West Bank. It has been able to defy pressure from the Arab world and other nations to negotiate a two-state settlement or accept a one-state option.

The true impact of Hamas' actions is that they put an end to such non-policies.

Ian Parmeter is a research scholar at the Australian National University's Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies.


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