The 2023-2024 Gaza Terror Campaign

Four different factors are about to cause an explosion of the Gaza Strip powder keg. While none of these factors have anything to do with Israel, Israelis will most probably find themselves again indiscriminately targeted by the rockets of the Gazan terrorists and Israel will be blamed for the violence. In order to go on record, and preempt the biased findings of yet another United Nations Human Rights Council “Independent Commission of Inquiry,” that will inevitably rule that the homicidal terror was “innocent, non-violent protests” here is the real story behind the impending explosion.

The first indictors of the imminent explosion were seen in recent days when mass demonstrations on the fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel, started “spontaneously”. In one event, video footage captured a terror cell walking alongside the fence, when the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) they were carrying exploded, in what has been defined as a “work accident,” killing five of the terrorists.

Before delving into the factors contributing to the imminent explosion, it is important to recall a number of critical facts. In September 2005, Israel completed its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip re-deploying all the IDF troops to the 1949 Armistice Line and forcibly expelling all the Israelis who had lived in the Gaza Strip for almost 30 years. Shortly thereafter, in January 2006, Hamas, an internationally designated terror organization, participated in and won the first general elections held by the Palestinian Authority since 1996. Despite the electoral success, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, deposed the Hamas government, replacing it with members of his own Fatah party. In the summer of 2007, Hamas forcibly expelled the Fatah leadership from the Gaza Strip, on some occasions throwing the Fatah members to their deaths from the tops of buildings. Since then, Hamas has governed the Gaza Strip with an iron fist.

Hamas has earned its international designation as a terror entity by carrying out thousands of terror attacks. Hamas’s Charter calls for the destruction of Israel and declares all of Israel is Islamic Waqf – i.e. Islamic territory – that no one has the right to place under the rule of any non-Islamic foreign entity.

Instead of seizing the golden opportunity given to the Gazans in 2005 to build luxury hotels, resorts, and infrastructure projects that could have been the source of stable employment for the masses, and to turn the beautiful Gaza Strip into a Mediterranean oasis, Hamas and the other terrorists chose a path of violence.

Over the last 18 years, the terrorists in Gaza, who belong to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and a host of other terrorist organizations, have used the Gaza Strip as a launching pad for over 20,000 (twenty thousand) terror attacks against Israel and Israelis. These attacks have included, but are not limited to, firing over 17,000 missiles and mortars, throwing and planting hundreds of IED’s and Molotov Cocktails, hundreds of shooting attacks, launching thousands of “incendiary kites” – kites with incendiary devices attached to them that then land in Israel and cause huge fires, and attempted and successful infiltrations of terrorists into Israel to murder Israelis.

Hamas has squandered tens of millions of dollars building its terror capabilities, including an entire underground tunnel network.

As Hamas and the other terrorists built their terror capabilities, they relied on external aid to provide for the unemployed Gazans. Those who could, fled abroad. Those who stayed, remained pawns, and often even cannon fodder, of the terrorists and their international supporters, in their constant efforts to attack and vilify Israel.

On this background, it is now possible to examine the latest impending explosion.


One of the most substantial foreign donors to the Gaza Strip has been Qatar. Over the years the Qatari aid has taken different forms. Originally all the aid was provided in the form of suitcases full of dollar bills, carried into the Strip by the Qatari representative. The money was then given to the Hamas authorities who then distributed it as they saw fit.

As the sight of the cash filled suitcases passing through Israel and the scenes from the distribution became a PR nightmare for all concerned, more intricate systems were developed. For some time, the monthly $30 million aid Qatar has provided to the Gaza Strip has been divided in three: $10 million distributed monthly to 100,000 underprivileged families, at a rate of $100 per family; $10 million is provided in the form of fuel, imported from Egypt, to operate Gaza’s sole power plant; and $10 million to fund projects for the unemployed and pay part of the salaries of Hamas government employees.

In recent months the aid from Qatar has been “delayed”. While the official explanation is that the previous grant expired in April and that the Qatari authorities are trying to renew the aid, the real story is that the Qataris are annoyed with the growing relations between Hamas and the Iranian-Syrian-Hizballah axis of terror. Either way, the fact is that regular flow of money has been disrupted.

The result is that the Hamas authorities are unable to provide basic services for the needy Palestinians or pay salaries to the Hamas employees.

Civil unrest

As a result of the cumulative effects of the worsening financial situation and ongoing disillusion with the Hamas leadership, throughout the summer, different groups of Gazans took to the streets to protest. Unwilling to tolerate any dissent, Hamas moved quickly, and violently, to disperse the demonstrations and prevent their recurrence.


As preparations are made for the departure of aging PA dictator Mahmoud Abbas (87), now in his 19th year of his first four-year-term as PA Chairman, it is quickly becoming clear to Hamas that Israel and the international community are doing their utmost to maintain the despotic rule of Fatah over the remnants of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Hamas has realized that the calls of the international community to hold general Palestinian elections – that Hamas would clearly win – are nothing other than lip service. Hamas, and by consequence the Gaza Strip, will again be left out of the equation and Hamas and the Gaza Strip will continue to suffer the whims of the next Fatah despot.

This factor becomes more time sensitive by the appearance of Abbas before the UN General Assembly. Clearly, Hamas will not vacate the stage and allow Abbas alone to claim his place as the sole Palestinian representative.

Internal Hamas jockeying

Hamas in the Gaza Strip is run by Yahya Sinwar, a convicted murderer who was released by Israel as part of the deal to free kidnapped Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. Sinwar was narrowly elected for a second term as leader of the organization in Gaza in a secret internal Hamas election in March 2021, but only after he was forced to a third round of voting against opponent Nizar Awadullah.

Smelling the scent of weakness, one of Sinwar’s more prominent rivals, Salah Al-Arouri challenges him. He is the commander of Hamas in Judea and Samaria. Having spent time in an Israeli prison for his involvement in terror, Al-Arouri now resides abroad, mainly in Lebanon. From his residence abroad, Al-Arouri has nonetheless managed to initiate and command substantial terror attacks in Judea and Samaria. Among others, Al-Arouri took credit for the 2014 abduction and murder of three Israeli teens, by Hamas terrorists.

Use of violence to divert attention

In order to prove his credentials as no less of a terrorist than Al-Arouri, Sinwar needs to do something.

In 2018, as part of an intensifying power struggle between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in Ramallah, Sinwar adopted a suggestion to organize massive violent demonstrations on the fence dividing between the Strip and Israel. At one of the demonstrations Sinwar declared to the inflamed crowd, “We will take down the border (with Israel) and we will tear out their hearts from their bodies.” The demonstrations continued for about a year.

To defend the Israeli citizens from the imminent threat posed by the terrorists, IDF soldiers shot many of the terrorists, killing some and injuring others.

Realizing the potential, Sinwar quickly turned the whole event into a PR bonanza, portraying the terrorists as innocent victims of Israeli aggression. The deaths of the terrorists were then used to convince the international community that Israel is “the big bad wolf.” The useful idiots, in the form of yet another Commission of Inquiry established by United Nations Human Rights Council , ignored Hamas’ role in the events, whitewashed the terror and vilified Israel.

All of Sinwar’s goals were achieved. Attention was again focused on the Gaza Strip, Abbas was forced to  change course, the Gazans were rallied behind the ultimate external enemy, and Israel was again blamed. The violence and the canon fodder had served their purpose.

The impending explosion

So when faced with a quickly deteriorating financial situation due to the Qatari decision, together with the already existing internal unrest, combined with the fear of remaining irrelevant even after the departure of Abbas, and all compounded by the possibility of losing his position to a more hard line terrorist, Sinwar may make the obvious terror choice: Violence, violence and more violence.

Israel will hopefully, from Sinwar’s perspective, be dragged into a full on battle, with war planes attacking terror assets throughout the enclave.

Dead Palestinians can then be cynically peddled as a means to rally the troops – both internally and in the international community – and re-direct the public hatred of Hamas towards Israel. Destroyed buildings mean another international effort to “reconstruct Gaza,” which in turn brings in more building materials and provides jobs for thousands. Sinwar simultaneously renews his credentials as the baddest terrorist on the block, reinventing the possibility to blame Israel as the evil “occupier” for Hamas’ failures.

While none of this has anything to do with Israel, Sinwar and Hamas are hoping that Israel will step into the fray and use its influence to directly or indirectly persuade Qatar not only to renew its aid, but to also increase it. They will also use the opportunity to impress upon Israel and the international community that Hamas is the true legitimate representative of the Palestinians and that in the day after Abbas, they will not tolerate being ignored.

Considering the different factors driving the potentially imminent violence, it is almost impossible to avert. In the short term, all that remains for Israel to do is to ensure that the Israeli security forces prevent the terrorists from infiltrating Israel and that any salvos of rockets fired from Gaza to indiscriminately target Israel’s civilian population, are shot down by the Iron Dome system.

In the long term, this analysis will form the basis with which to respond to what will inevitably become another biased attempt by the UN Human Rights Council to rewrite history, whitewash the homicidal terrorists and attack Israel.

About the Author
Lt. Col. (res) Maurice Hirsch is the Director of the Initiative for Palestinian Authority Accountability and Reform in the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a Senior Legal Analyst at Human Rights Voices and a member of the Israel Defense and Security Forum. He served for 19 years in the IDF Military Advocate General Corps. In his last position he served as Director of the Military Prosecution in Judea and Samaria.