By Alon Ben David for Al-Monitor Israel Pulse Posted on May 3.
It’s well worth noting the change underway in Hamas. It has barely restocked its supply of rockets since Operation “Pillar of Defense,” it is arresting activists involved in shootings against Israeli targets, and it has shifted its efforts from building up its military force to maintaining peace and quiet.
This site has seen more than a few articles about theÂ ideological turnabout underway in Hamas. It has transformed itself from a movement that adhered to terrorism and armed resistance into a movement striving to attain international legitimacy and which aims at coming to power throughout the entire Palestinian Authority in the upcoming elections.
There were clear indications that such a shift was happening: Not only was Khaled Meshaal, a “pragmatist,” re-elected chairman of the movement’s Political Bureau (April 1), but top Hamas officialÂ Mahmoud al-Zahar, a leader of the hard-liners, was ejected from the Hamas leadership. Then there was the statement by the Hamas government’sÂ Deputy Foreign Minister Ghazi HamadÂ that “Hamas agrees to accept a state within the 1967 borders,” and the leadership’s vigorous efforts to have Hamas removed from the list of terrorist organizations.
Facts on the ground are further evidence of changesÂ
Once the IDF completed Operation “Pillar of Defense” in Gaza (Nov. 14-21), Israel’s Southern Command conducted a situation assessment under the auspices of the Minister of Defense. This effort to gauge the operation’s real success was conducted to assist in future planning. Pessimists among the participants anticipated no more than a single week of quiet along Israel’s southern border. Optimists looked forward to two months of calm. No one predicted what would happen in Gaza in the next five months. Even in the first days after the operation, the Southern Command was shocked to see Hamas activists scattering groups of demonstrators who gathered along the border with Israel, and even administeringÂ beatings. This was the first indication that change was underway on the ground.
What happened was that in those same days immediately after the operation, Hamas’ senior leadership conducted its own assessment of the situation. The participants included members of the movement’s political wing, but also of its military wing, which had just lost its commander, Hamas “Chief of Staff” Ahmed Jabari. (Jabari was killed in an IDF aerial assault while driving his car.) In effect, this action was the opening salvo of Operation “Pillar of Defense.” The group that convened reached the conclusion that the movement had suffered a crushing defeat.Â Even though they managed to fire 1,500 rockets over the course of just six days, this had no lasting significant effect on the Israeli home front, which was protected by the Iron Dome defense system. In contrast, Israel managed to conductÂ a surgical assault from the airÂ with relatively few civilian casualties. The Palestinian public could actually watch the skirmishing with relative indifference. Though the Hamas commanders were hardly happy to admit it, Israel’s methodical strikes against their …read more