This article currently appears in Lay of the Land:
The art of abdicating responsibility for the firing of rockets onto Israeli civilian infrastructure was elevated to a level that only be described as something out of a Monty Python sketch as arch terror group, Hamas, blamed weather conditions for their recent launching. Really, you cannot make this up!
Hamas, who are charged with governing the Gaza strip, are responsible for the recent spate of rockets that have been fired towards Israeli territory in the last couple of weeks, culminating in a tense escalation.
On the 25th of March, a rocket was fired from the Gaza strip, reaching far into Israeli territory and decimating a house on the moshav, Mishmeret, and injuring a family of seven. Thirty other homes were damaged by shrapnel from the rockets. Israel threatened a strong response and bombed strategic targets in the Gaza strip, including leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh’s secret headquarters. No civilians were killed which is testament to the conduct of the IDF to strike with pinpoint precision while doing the utmost, including warning with pamphlets, text messages and phone calls, to avoid any loss of life.
Remains of the house destroyed by a rocket in Mishmeret
The response to this was another barrage of rockets into Israel’s southern communities.
While Hamas would rather have you believe that rockets are self-launching, it cannot detract from the important fact that they are responsible for reigning in rogue elements within the Gaza strip and their inability to control terror groups like Islamic Jihad can plunge the volatile area into another war. Islamic Jihad, like Hamas, is a proxy of Iran and the regime, aiming to gain a closer foothold to Israel is looking to Gaza to do this. Iran is using their proxies on both Israel’s Southern and northern borders to provoke a war. Hamas are in talks with Qatar and Egypt with regards to easing the humanitarian crisis in the strip, but other groups are itching for a showdown with Israel.
This places Hamas in a bit of a quandary. They don’t want to engage in a war with Israel (hence the epic excuses for their rockets launching) BUT still want to be seen at the vanguard of Palestinian resistance.
Hamas would also rather distract from growing protests in the Gaza strip. Across this beleaguered patch, the citizens are taking to the street to protest that enough is enough. Enough with high taxes. Enough of high unemployment. Enough of poverty while the leaders of Hamas live the high life and using much needed international aid to fund their terrorist escapades. Journalists and human rights activists have been rounded up and tortured and Hamas goons have invaded people’s homes in attempts to squash these protests. The leadership of Hamas has to show that they are still in control of the strip – and while rockets are a distraction from their internal issues, they are reluctant to provoke Israel into a full-scale conflict, so they hedge their bets carefully when they strike. However, I don’t think that they were ready for Israel’s no-nonsense response……
As Israel approaches a crucial election that could very well be a game changer, Iran is wont to challenge the mettle of Israel. Could this be a tactic to disrupt the upcoming elections?
These dangerous cat and mouse game coincided with the one-year anniversary of the March of Return protests and annual Land Day commemoration. Over the last year, Hamas have encouraged thousands of Gazans to protest at the border with Gaza. These are NOT peaceful protests.
Hamas leader, Yahya Sinwar, spoke of breaking through the border fence and “ripping the hearts out of the Jews”. Hardly Kumbaya, but rather a sinister call to murder. Sinwar’s words were backed by tires being burnt, creating an ecological disaster, Molotov cocktails and rocks being thrown at IDF troops, animals set alight and the launching of incendiary devices attacked to kites, balloons and kestrels. These incendiary devices burnt thousands of dunnams of valuable agricultural land and fauna and flora and constitute a war crime against Israel.
But it is all about the optics!
Hamas and other terror elements provoke in order to get a response, hopefully one that racks up as many civilian casualties as possible. To this end, Hamas ensured that children are on the front line, and for the anniversary, closed all the schools so that they could participate. I ask you, do responsible adults encourage children to be active in conflict zones? Civilian casualties mean pity, opprobrium for Israel and front-page headlines. With global interest in the conflict waning, Hamas are desperate for column inches. This one-year anniversary march could have ignited the region but thanks to the diplomatic efforts of Egypt, Israel and yes, Hamas, disaster was averted. The caveat? Calmer protests for the easing of restrictions on the Gaza strip by both Egypt and Israel. The people of Gaza deserve better than to have violence and conflict inflicted on them by the proxies of a tyrannical regime. In the meantime, IDF troops are maintaining their positions on the border should conflict erupt.
As the situation in Gaza deteriorates into a humanitarian disaster, the time has long since passed for Hamas to accept their role and responsibility for this. Blaming Israel is convenient and easy, blaming global warming and weather phenomenon’s for almost igniting war, is, well, just plain cowardice.