The ceasefire on the Gaza Strip still holds. Until recently militant Palestinians had fired dozens of mortar shells and rockets at Israel . Jerusalem responded with air strikes on military targets. But this Friday, the situation could escalate again.
A “one-million-march-for-al-Kuds (Jerusalem)” is to commemorate the defeat of the Arabs in the Six-Day War in 1967. If demonstrators march on the border fence again or throw incendiary bombs, it is not ruled out that there will be deaths. Israel’s army wants to use snipers as before to secure the border.
What does Hamas intend to do with the protests?
The aim of the Islamists is that the blockade of the Egyptians and the Israelis is loosened. For the coastal strip suffers for years under the restrictive border policy of the two neighbors. Deliveries of goods are limited, the Gazans are more or less imprisoned.
But the dismal situation of the people leads not only to anger on Egypt and Israel, but also to displeasure over the ruling Hamas.
“Over the past few weeks, the organization has joined the protest movement to present itself as an organization that is peacefully fighting the blockade. This is opportunistic, but it also shows that Hamas recognizes the strategic added value of being perceived as part of the protests, “says Marc Frings, head of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Ramallah. Hamas has also succeeded in mobilizing the masses. “Without their logistical help, it would not have been possible to bring so many people to the border.”
Who are the protesters?
The Israelis are certain: The demonstrators at the border fence to Gaza are terrorists . You see yourself confirmed by the words of Hamas spokesman Salah Bardawil. He admitted that 50 of the more than 60 Palestinians killed on May 14 were Hamas members. At the same time, however, representatives of Hamas emphasize that the protests have been peaceful and have the support of the population. This shows that Hamas is attempting to double-track the protests on the one hand as a popular uprising, but at the same time refute allegations, one would have deliberately sacrificed civilians.
Nevertheless, it can not be denied that Hamas accepts that people are killed. After all, Israel’s army has repeatedly stated that it will stop attacking at gunpoint.
On the other hand, the Islamists are exploiting poverty in the bitterly-poor coastal strip. So Hamas has paid money to protesters, equivalent to between 170 and 250 euros for injuries and up to 2500 euros for the bereaved in the event of death. But not all take money or are Hamas members. The initiators of the protests had a peaceful action in mind to draw attention to the situation of the people of Gaza .
How does Israel react?
Israel intends to shoot snipers again on Friday at those who want to break through the border fence or use Molotov cocktails for attacks. In addition, the army has announced that it will no longer accept burning dragons.
These, partially fueled with petrol cans, have not only destroyed hundreds of acres of cornfields and forests, but have come dangerously close to villages along the Gaza Strip. This should be prevented in the future – even with armed force.
What are the goals of Hamas?
The militant organization was founded in late 1987 as a Palestinian offshoot of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood – at the beginning of the first Intifada, the revolt against the occupying power Israel. Her name bears witness to the self-image.
“Hamas” stands for zeal and commitment in Arabic. The word is also an abbreviation for “Movement of the Islamic Resistance”. This refers to armed resistance to “the Zionist project”, which includes assassinations. For example, in the past Hamas extremists have repeatedly committed devastating suicide bombings in Israel.
The radical movement is therefore on the terrorist lists of the US and the European Union. The Jewish state answered the attacks by attacking the positions of the Islamists and at times with targeted killings of leading activists.
The ideological basis of Hamas is its charter from 1988. There, in a fanatical tone, Israel’s right to exist is denied, and violence against the Jewish state is described as legitimate. The goal is to destroy Israel through a “holy war”, the “liberation” of Palestine is “the highest duty” for every Muslim.
The Charter refers several times to the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, an anti-Semitic pamphlet. A Hamas leaflet from 1990 states: “Every Jew is a settler, and it is our duty to kill him.”
Just over a year ago, Hamas gave itself to the outside a bit more moderate. At that time a paper was presented in which it is said that a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders is being considered. Observers see this as a tactical maneuver, just to make a sweet child in the West. However, Islamists want to stick to their ultimate goal: Israel’s destruction.
How is Hamas organized?
Officially, the organization consists of three parts, which, however, are in fact not separate. There is a relief organization that takes care of the needs of the people, a party and the Kassam Brigades. This military unit is said to have up to 25,000 fighters under arms, with which it has been at war three times in recent years against Israel.
Ismail Hanija, who spent years leading the Islamists in Gaza, has been at the head of all Hamas for some time. This job was taken over by Jahia Sinwar, a hardliner among the radicals. He was a member of the Kassam Brigades and was in Israeli custody for more than 23 years.
Where does Hamas get its money from??
From many sources. These are, for example, donations from members and sympathizers. In addition, taxes and fees are charged in the Gaza Strip. The bulk of the funding comes from foreign patrons. Initially, these were Saudi Arabia and Syria. But in the meantime these states have fallen out with Hamas.
First, Qatar filled the gap – until a year ago, when some Gulf monarchies and Egypt imposed a blockade on the emirate . One of the demands was to break with the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. It seems that Qatar is actually retreating .
This is a golden opportunity for Iran to resume its role as an allied financier. It does not bother the Shiite leadership in Tehran that Hamas has a Sunni background. The priority is to be able to build a new front against Israel.
Hamas is using the money at its disposal to improve the lives of the people of Gaza. The radicals prefer to upgrade and build elaborate tunnels to commit acts of terrorism on Israeli territory. The UN cares for the well-being of the people above all .
How stable is the rule?
Hamas has been in power in the Gaza Strip for more than ten years . In elections in the Palestinian territories she emerged victorious in 2006. But it did not come to a planned government of national unity with Fatah. Rather, there was a fratricidal war in Gaza, Fatah was expelled from the coastal strip .
Since then, Hamas rules with a strong hand and violence, based on Sharia law. She does not care about free elections. On a military path, however, there will probably be no change in circumstances. even if this is demanded by nationalist politicians in Israel. The permanent bombardment must, as the hardliners argue, mean that the coastline will be filled again.
But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as leading military leaders, think little of resuming responsibility for Gaza. That’s another reason why there is no interest in a new war . Then you better deal with Hamas somehow. At least you know how she “ticks”.
There is also a risk that even more radical Hamas groups could succeed as rulers. So far, it does not seem that terrorist organizations like Gaza-based “Islamic Jihad” or “Islamic State” related Salafists will inherit Hamas .
Nevertheless, such groups are certainly a competition for the rulers. Because there is the accusation that Hamas act too moderate, have long betrayed the “struggle for freedom of the Palestinians”. No wonder that the rulers rigorously oppose this kind of opposition. One year ago, Hamas militants reduced the mosque of an IS-affiliated group to rubble – as a warning.