The launch of a rocket this morning by the Palestinian “factions” – a.k.a terrorist groups – targeting the center of Israel’s civilian population was inevitable.
The tensions between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, that have existed since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, started escalating in 2018 with financial decisions made by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, that punished Hamas in an attempt to force it into agreeing to relinquish its control of Gaza.
When the financial measures failed, Abbas decided to dissolve the Palestinian Parliament. Abbas’ decision stripped Hamas of the ability to seize control of the PA by lawful means. PA law provides that in the event that the Chairman is unable to perform his duties, the position is filled, for an interim period, by the Speaker of the Parliament. The Speaker of the dissolved parliament was from Hamas. In the absence of a parliament, there is also no Speaker to replace Abbas.
Finally, Abbas decided to replace the “national consensus” government that had been headed by a Prime Minister unaffiliated with either Abbas’ Fatah party or with Hamas. In place of the ostensibly neutral Prime Minister, Abbas appointed long time Fatah leader and Abbas crony, Mahmoud Shtayyeh.
On the backdrop of this rift and while failing to provide the basic needs of the Palestinians under its control, Hamas started organizing the infamous weekly violent confrontations with Israel. Adopting 25 years of PA teachings that every so-called Palestinian refugee, will enjoy the “right to return” to Israel, and thereby democratically destroy Israel, Hamas tried to deflect attention from its failures and mobilize the masses against Israel.
When these violent clashes failed to achieve their desired effect, and as Hamas appeared to be losing ground to Abbas’ PA, violent clashes between Fatah supporters and Hamas ensued. These clashes were met with a heavy handed response by Hamas.
Abbas’ PA and Fatah have seized the opportunity to condemn Hamas. On March 16, 2019, the Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, included a statement made by Fatah Revolutionary Council member and Fatah Spokesman Osama Al-Qawasmi, who said that Hamas launched the missile attack 10 days ago in order to “calm the uprising of the starving” Gazans.
Al-Qawasmi could make that statement based on the cumulative experience of the PA and Fatah, which has consistently initiated waves of terrorism against Israel, any time the PA or Fatah leaders were suffering from a loss of popular support.
The “official” reasoning provided for the rocket launch – the Israeli aggression towards the terrorist prisoners, is no different.
During the evening prior to the launch of the rocket, Hamas terrorist prisoners attacked two Israeli prison service officers, stabbing one in the neck. The response of the Prison Service was quick and forceful. Had this event stood alone, it may have been possible to attribute the launch to this cause.
However the wider picture is much more complex. Since Israel decided to implement its new Anti PA “Pay for Slay” policy, Abbas has been gaining ground against Hamas as the protector of the terrorist prisoners’ rights.
Again using the PA’s constant messaging and indoctrination that the terrorist prisoners are legitimate “freedom fighters”, Hamas also had to prove its bona fides as the protector of the terrorist prisoners.
Accordingly, here again, notwithstanding the “official” excuse the underlying motive for the launch of the rocket, has nothing to do with Israel, but rather the internal Palestinian power struggle to win the hearts of the Palestinians.
As if the internal Palestinian power struggle was insufficient, in the last few weeks the PA and Hamas received what they perceive to be additional, albeit expected support, from the international community, specifically the UN.
In the last few weeks, Hamas and the other Palestinian “factions” in Gaza have continued to launch rocket attacks against Israel, including two long range rockets (criticized by Qawasmi) that targeted Israel’s heavily civilian populated Dan region. While often quick to condemn Israel, the UN Secretary General’s Special representative to the Middle East, Nikkolay Mladenov, issued no condemnation of these attacks.
Last week, the UN Human Rights Council adopted several resolutions condemning Israel after adopting the PA and Hamas narrative that the violent clashes, organized and orchestrated by Hamas, on Israel’s border with Gaza since March 30th 2018, are nothing more than peaceful demonstrations and that the Israeli response to them was excessive.
The combination of the internal Palestinian power struggle with the “stamp of approval” of the UN that Palestinian terrorism will constantly be downplayed and even ignored in order to serve the goal of vilifying Israel made the launch of the rocket attack inevitable. Now, when Israel responds, the PA and Hamas will again play their all too successful “victim card”, in the hope of diverting attention from their own pugnacious policies in favor of condemning Israel.