Analysis: IDF raids help Hamas, undermine Fatah

Most of influential Arab TV stations provide Hamas with a free platform.

Gaza rubble crowd 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Gaza rubble crowd 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Analysis: Hamas and its supporters are convinced that the latest Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip is designed to topple the Hamas government there and bring Fatah back to power. Hamas leaders and spokesmen strongly condemned the IDF "atrocities" and were quick to accuse Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah loyalists of "collusion" with Israel. And many Palestinians appear to have endorsed Hamas's allegations. Addressing Abbas, Hamas, in a statement issued over the weekend, said: "If you think that you will return to the Gaza Strip aboard an Israeli tank you are living in an illusion. And if you think that Hamas can be eliminated you are also deluding yourself." Al-Jazeera and most of the influential TV stations throughout the Arab world provided Hamas with a free platform to air the allegations to hundreds of millions of viewers. Undoubtedly, these charges have seriously embarrassed Abbas and the Fatah-dominated PA leadership in Ramallah, turning them - in the eyes of many Arabs and Muslims - into "collaborators" and "opportunists" whose only goal is to return to the Gaza Strip with Israel's help. That explains why Abbas and his top aides rushed to issue harsh reactions to the IDF offensive, with some of them dubbing it a "new holocaust" against the Palestinians. One of Abbas's aides expressed deep concern over the operations, claiming that Israel was "playing into the hands of Hamas by turning them into victims." He added: "Unfortunately, many Palestinians believe Hamas when it says that what's happening in the Gaza Strip is part of a larger plan aimed at removing Hamas from power and bringing Fatah back. Even worse, some Palestinians believe that we are pushing Israel to launch a massive attack on Hamas." In the wake of the latest upsurge in violence, Abbas has come under pressure from many Palestinians to suspend all talks with Israel. Even some Arab MKs have joined the bandwagon by criticizing Abbas and holding him responsible for the "massacres." In an attempt to dispel the charges, Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, announced that they would no longer abide by an unofficial truce with Israel and would resume suicide bombings. In addition, beleaguered Fatah leaders in Ramallah have called for a general strike in the West Bank in solidarity with the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Despite the high death toll among the Palestinians over the weekend, there are no signs that Hamas's standing has been affected. In the eyes of some Palestinian political analysts, the Israeli military operations are even likely to boost the Islamist movement's popularity. As one analyst put it, "Many Palestinians don't see a link between Israel's operations and the firing of the rockets. As far as they are concerned, Israel's only goal is to remove Hamas from power."