Not surprisingly, defiant Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders on Tuesday rushed to declare victory in the war with Israel.
This is exactly what they did following the two previous wars in the Gaza Strip.
“The military victory of the resistance and the legendary steadfastness of our people will lead to the lifting of the siege on the Gaza Strip,” said former Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh. “The enemy has failed in its confrontation with the brave resistance.”
Echoing the sentiment, Islamic Jihad’s senior political official, Yusef al-Hasayneh, said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had failed to achieve his main objective of “destroying and disarming the Palestinian resistance.”
He claimed that Israel was forced to replace its original goal with the destruction of tunnels as a result of fierce resistance by Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad have lost hundreds of their militiamen and much of their military capabilities during the war.
But there are a number of reasons why the two groups insist that they have emerged triumphant.
First, none of the political leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad were killed.
Second, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are convinced that were it not for the fierce resistance put up by their men, the IDF would have entered deeper, or even reoccupied, the entire Gaza Strip.
The two groups are now taking credit for foiling the IDF’s original plan to create a new reality in the Gaza Strip – to remove the terrorist groups from power.
Third, Hamas and Islamic Jihad believe that thanks to the large number of civilian casualties, they managed to rally international public opinion against Israel and pave the way for filing war crime charges against it with the International Criminal Court.
Fourth, the two groups do not accept the claim that the war could turn Palestinians in the Gaza Strip against them. But this could change as Palestinian civilians begin to realize the extent of the damage caused by the war.
However, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are well aware that unless they manage to translate their professed victory into political achievements, there is no reason for celebration.
And this is what they hope to achieve in Cairo during the indirect cease-fire talks with Israel.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders hope to persuade the Egyptians (and Israel) to lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip, reopen the Palestinian airport and build a new seaport.
If they fail to score political achievements, Hamas and Islamic Jihad will have a lot of explaining to do to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip who paid a very heavy price during the war.
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