Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Today's Rocket Barrage By Hamas Was Foreseeable -- And Part of A Trend

The Israel Project has posted on its website about Worrisome Trends in Gaza Mirror Hamas's 2008 Lead-Up To War.

What is perhaps more worrisome is that this post is not about today, but rather about the Hamas rocket attack that came out of Gaza 2 weeks ago when 30 rockets were fired at Israeli civilians.

Bother Hamas attacks pale in comparison to the attacks during late June 2012, when over 80 rockets were fired at Israeli towns and communities over 4 days. Back then also, Hamas took credit for firing the rockets.

However, even more worrisome is the possibility that Hamas may be looking for a repeat of December 2008, when the terrorist group refused to renew a its ceasefire with Israel and instead fired more than 100 rockets and mortars at Israeli civilians towns and cities. In response to the bombardment, Israel responded with Operation Cast Lead to bring an end to the Hamas assault, leading to a war that went on for weeks.

The Israel Project article notes parallels between Hamas's December 2008 infrastructure and strategy and its reinvigorated aggression:

  1. Militarized Civilian Infrastructure

    Hamas has remilitarized civilian and religious infrastructure in Gaza. The IDF's response to Monday's attacks included targeting an example of that infrastructure, a mosque that had been turned into a Hamas post.

    Before and during Cast Lead, Hamas transformed up to 100 mosques into depots and bases, and the IDF even discovered a Hamas map outlining how fighters should position themselves next to mosques, homes, and gas stations to achieve maximum carnage.

    Hamas's military redeployment to mosques indicates that the group is again preparing to target civilians during hostilities with Israel.

  2. Political Leadership of "Resistance" Groups

    Hamas has politically reunited what it terms "the resistance factions" behind it. The group launched Monday's attack jointly with the Iranian-aligned Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Al-Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obeida emphasized through Palestinian outlets the "high-level of coordination between the resistance factions in the management of the confrontation with the Zionist occupation." Arab sources report that Hamas and PIJ have set up a joint “war room.”

    Before and during Cast Lead, Hamas forcibly stamped out all political opposition, continuing a practice it had begun when it seized power by shooting out the kneecaps of political opponents and pushing them off buildings.

    Recent analysis had suggested that Hamas was distancing itself from Shiite-aligned Gaza factions and aligning with the Sunni countries fighting a proxy war in Syria against Iran. That analysis was never completely sound: Hamas leaders including Mahmoud al-Zahar gathered in Iran in September to coordinate moves against Israel with other groups, while leaders such as Khaled Mashal, who opposed Iranian involvement in Syria have been marginalized. Regardless of whether the analysis was misguided or Hamas has recalibrated, the result is the same.

  3. Explicitly Aggressive Military Posture

    Hamas has militarily taken control of attacks on Israel, explicitly claiming responsibility for the escalation. The group had not claimed rocket fire since attacking Israel in June.

    Before and during Cast Lead, Hamas repeatedly attacked Israel and rejected ceasefire offers. Hamas miscalculated, issuing "a united stance" that a long-lasting truce would not be renewed and taunting that Gaza would become "a graveyard for Israelis" if the IDF responded to rocket fire. The result was Cast Lead.

  4. Targeting Vulnerable Israeli Infrastructure, Including Children's

    Hamas has returned to bombing vulnerable civilian infrastructure, especially infrastructure involving children. Monday's attacks scored a direct hit on a children’s petting zoo, killing several of the animals inside but fortunately not hitting any children.

    Before and during Cast Lead, Palestinian groups had openly bragged about timing their attacks to when Israeli schoolchildren were traveling to school.

The Israel Project posted this analysis back on October 8.
Now, on October 24, their concern has been justified.

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