All of the players in the Middle East and around the world are watching the conflict between Israel and the militants in the Gaza Strip within Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). This is by design. The timing is too perfect.
In the coming weeks, White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner and his team will be presenting their Middle East peace plan. The unveiling could be just over a month away following the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on June 4. By that time, it’s likely Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be forming a coalition government.
The Gaza Strip has been in a growing state of chaos for months as its people have been taking to the streets to protest living conditions in the area. They are sanctioned or blocked by multiple governments and organizations, making it difficult to get the necessary resources. But even if they received them, it’s unlikely they would go where they’re needed. Many have viewed past aggressions as attempts to garner sympathy and force international aid to be pushed through.
But the ongoing attacks today, which now include over 700 rockets and mortars fired into Israel, are a completely different degree of escalation. Both sides are talking about all-out war, and while neither Hamas nor Iran-backed Islamic Jihad is impotent, they are in no position to wage war against Israel without causing extreme harm to their tiny region.
That’s the point. They want to be harmed. Or, to be more specific, they leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad want the people living in their territory to be harmed by Israel to expand the already-unfathomable level of hatred towards the Jewish state from the international community.
This is why they commit, as Netahyahu calls it, “double war crime” by indiscriminately shooting at civilians from civilian centers. They are like comic book villains who hide behind the innocent while attacking other innocents, daring the good guys to try to hit them without harming the innocents. It’s sickening.
But this isn’t just about Israel. The Palestinian Authority is also an indirect target of the Hamas/PIJ. The hope is to center negotiations on the Gaza Strip first and foremost, giving them the leverage for additional influence over East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The PA wants to unify a Palestinian state under their authority, but Hamas has eyes on reversing that notion. This is why the timing of their attacks is significant. They want a bigger seat at the table and they’re willing to use rockets to force the issue.
I might actually work.
Meanwhile PA leader Mahmoud Abbas is stuck trying to retain control and relevance. He may not be able to retain either.
When things don’t seem to make sense, such as the incessant attacks on Israel by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, don’t assume it’s random. They want a bigger seat at the peace plan table and they’re willing to kill to get it.