Analysis: Hamas trying to restore shattered morale
There are no signs that Hamas was interested in a cease-fire.
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
There were no signs whatsoever on Thursday that Hamas was interested in a cease-fire with Israel at this stage.In past rounds of fighting, Hamas leaders used to appeal, both openly and discreetly, to the Egyptians to intervene in order to achieve another truce with Israel.But the assassination of Ahmed Jabari, overall commander of Hamas’s armed wing, the Izzadin Kassam Brigades, has hurt the Islamist movement so badly that it feels the strong and urgent need to restore not only its lost dignity, but also the shattered morale of its members and supporters in the aftermath of the elimination of Jabari.Unconfirmed reports that Hamas has “begged” the Egyptians to broker another cease-fire with Israel have been strongly denied by the movement’s leaders and spokesmen in the Gaza Strip.Hamas feels that with the killing of such a senior figure it has lost its balance of power vis-a-vis Israel, and will agree to a cease-fire only after it feels that it has extracted a heavy price from Israel for the death of its military commander.Failure to extract such a price from Israel will undermine Hamas’s credibility not only among its Palestinian supporters, but also in the eyes of many Arabs and Muslims.Immediately after the assassination of Jabari, Hamas leaders and spokesmen threatened to “open the gates of hell” before Israel and to trigger an “earthquake under the feet of the Zionists.”Now Hamas is seeking to live up to its promise to avenge his death by killing as many Israelis as possible.On Thursday, shortly after Jabari was brought to burial, Hamas announced the beginning of “Operation Stones of Shale” by firing dozens of rockets and missiles at Israel.The name of the offensive is derived from the Koran, where it is mentioned that Allah sent swarms of birds to smite the “people of the elephants with stones of baked clay and made them like straw eaten up [by cattle].”The “people of the elephants” is a reference to the army of the powerful military commander King Abraha, who led an expedition to destroy the Ka’bah, the cuboid-shaped building in Mecca that is the most sacred site in Islam.Hamas believes that Israel is not interested in dragging on the confrontation for a lengthy period. The movement is also convinced that Israel will not send ground troops into the Gaza Strip.Nevertheless, Hamas officials acknowledged Thursday that they are aware of the fact that it’s only a matter of time before the Egyptians manage to reach another cease-fire deal with Israel.But before Hamas agrees to a ceasefire, it wants to show that it is capable of making Israel pay a heavy price for killing one of its most prominent commanders.
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