(May 10, 2018 / JNS) Until recently, Hamas officials gloated after every incendiary balloon sent towards Israel to burn Israeli wheat fields. But this giddiness on the part of the rulers of Gaza has been disappearing fast, and now that the smoke has cleared, they are feeling rather incompetent. As the Arabic proverb says, what’s left is nothing but hot air in a closed space.
Israelis have not buckled under balloon terrorism, Earth has not stopped rotating, and lo and behold: The world is interested in just about any other topic. Hamas’s praise heaped on Gazan kids for their ingenious designs of those incendiary weapons was nothing but a means of turning attention away from its failure to eradicate Israel with cross-border tunnels, missiles and terrorist attacks. These efforts have come with a steep price for the organization—and on the backs of Gazans, whose hopes of destroying Israel have been dashed once again.
The disaster that has been brought about by Hamas has created a humanitarian crisis of sorts in the Gaza Strip, and generated a state of moral and socioeconomic malaise, with the blame squarely on Hamas leaders. Meanwhile, the number of Gazans who join the weekly “March of Return” on the border fence has been gradually declining, and so has the number of protesters who are killed (to Hamas’s dismay). Thus, the terror group suddenly has much less to brag about and fewer tools to incite people.
Now Hamas leaders are warning that a humanitarian catastrophe is brewing, and this could lead to an escalation. They have been pointing fingers at everyone but themselves, saying they need any help they can get. They claim that the Palestinian Authority has been acting treacherously because it has colluded with Israel in suppressing the “resistance” and arresting perpetrators. They are particularly incensed that the P.A. has refused to finalize the reconciliation process and hold elections based on their terms.
They have also been increasingly more critical of the Arab states that are in a coalition with the Americans against Iran. Egypt has kept the Rafah crossing shut, and Qatar has only occasionally been covering the Gaza events on Al Jazeera news. Meanwhile, Turkey is too busy fighting in northern Syria and untangling its complicated relationship with Russia, the America and the West.
Hamas, whose economic and military strength is at an all-time low, has been unable to produce the “proper” number of dead Palestinians. Because of this frustration, it has tried to exploit the accident its people had when they tried to assemble an explosive device. Hamas has portrayed them as “journalists that Israel hurt in order to silence them,” and warned that they will make Israel stand trial for war crimes.
U.S. President Donald Trump stole Hamas’s thunder this week when he decided to pull out of the nuclear deal with Iran. This decision unleashed a wave of support in the Arab world, and Trump is now viewed as a trusted ally. Trump’s move only highlighted the schism he has with many in the West who oppose his views on Iran (including Turkey).
Iran has also criticized Trump’s decision. Trump has created noise by highlighting Iran’s spending on terrorism around the world, and especially in the region: Morocco, Yemen, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and the Gulf. And, of course, this spending includes Hamas.
The decision has reverberated in a way that has also affected the coverage on his upcoming meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and whether the two will have mutual trust. And all this has taken place against alleged Israeli attacks in Syria and the fallout from the parliamentary election this week in Lebanon.
Thus, with no one covering Hamas’s efforts, they are trying to capitalize on various provocations and to pin their hopes on the massive marches they plan to hold from Gaza into Israel in mid-May, which are to coincide with the inauguration of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem and the anniversary of Israel’s independence.
People who have nothing to offer but hot air in a closed space should be careful.
Dr. Reuven Berko was the adviser on Arab affairs to the Jerusalem district police and a writer for Israel Hayom.