Retired lieutenant colonel Jonathan D. Halevi, senior researcher on the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, has published an article on the current wave of violence in Israel called “The Hidden Hand behind the Palestinian Terror Wave” on the JCPA’s Institute for Contemporary Affairs website.
The Hidden Hand behind the Palestinian Terror Wave
Institute for Contemporary Affairs
Founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation
Vol. 15, No. 33
October 25, 2015
• Gaza has in effect become an independent Palestinian state, and this Hamas-ruled state is making a pitch, by means of the “Al-Quds Intifada,” to annex the West Bank as well. For Hamas, this is only one phase in the phased plan to implement an ethnic cleansing of the Jews from the Land of Israel.
• By unleashing Palestinian terror PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas hopes to bring about greater international intervention in the conflict, and, thereby, to give greater heft to UN General Assembly Resolution 67/19 of December 4, 2012, which recognizes “Palestine” as a nonmember observer state of the UN.
• Hamas, which in the past was a bitter foe of the PLO, has made it a supreme goal to take over the organization. It thereby seeks to gain the status of sole representative of the Palestinian people.
• Despite his declared support for a national reconciliation, Abbas is in no hurry to incorporate Hamas in the PLO institutions and is making this conditional on gaining real control of Gaza.
In recent years the Hamas leadership has been trying to spark an intifada in the West Bank that will lead to the PA’s collapse.
The wave of Palestinian terror against Israel, which the Palestinian leadership calls an “intifada” (a violent uprising that includes an armed struggle), is winning open support from all the representative organizations and institutions of the Palestinian people, including the PLO, the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, the Hamas authorities who control Gaza and organizations representing the Palestinian diaspora.
The green light for the intifada was given by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on September 30, in which he lauded Palestinian terror and threatened political chaos—that is, a descent into an all-out intifada-type conflict.
By unleashing Palestinian terror Abbas hopes to bring about greater international intervention in the conflict, and, thereby, to give greater heft to UN General Assembly Resolution 67/19 of December 4, 2012, which recognizes “Palestine” as a nonmember observer state of the UN within the borders of June 4, 1967, including east Jerusalem. Thus the Palestinian terror is meant to leverage international pressure on Israel to withdraw from the West Bank without negotiations or conditions. The Palestinian struggle against Israel will then continue from the new borders under improved circumstances.
The Hamas leadership, too, sees the UN resolution as a historic opportunity for it, particularly the provision that recognizes “the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, in accordance with a decision by the Palestine National Council, [as] entrusted with the powers and responsibilities of the Provisional Government of the State of Palestine….”
Hamas, which in the past was a bitter foe of the PLO, has made it a supreme goal to take over the organization. It thereby seeks to gain the status of sole representative of the Palestinian people and the right to international recognition of that status with the entire attendant political, legal, economic, and other ramifications.
Hence, in the reconciliation agreements between the PA/Fatah and Hamas, the Hamas leadership demanded the formation of a temporary PLO leadership that would include Hamas and Islamic Jihad—that is, partnership in the temporary Palestinian government—and the holding of new elections for the PLO institutions, first and foremost the Palestinian National Council.
Despite his declared support for a national reconciliation, Abbas is in no hurry to incorporate Hamas in the PLO institutions and is making this conditional on gaining real control of Gaza, currently under the effective control of Hamas. In Hamas’s view, Abbas and the present Palestinian leadership are an obstacle to gaining a foothold in the PLO institutions and the PLO Executive Committee, which constitutes the “temporary” Palestinian government.
The Hamas leadership understands that Abbas is trying, by means of the intifada, to upgrade the international recognition of the Palestinian state and of his status as “president” of all the Palestinian people, including Gaza, and to do so without enabling Hamas’s incorporation in the institutions of the state-in-the-making that are recognized by the international community.
Hamas has branded the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah as “traitors,” collaborators with Israel in the “grave crime” of security cooperation, to be punished by execution for “severe treason” against the Palestinian people. Hamas leaders deny the legitimacy of the PA’s rule and call for its overthrow by the masses.
In recent years the Hamas leadership has been trying to spark an intifada in the West Bank that will lead to the PA’s collapse—whether through a revolt by the Palestinian population or a wide-scale Israeli military operation against the PA military forces that are responsible for the terror.
The Hamas leadership is also appropriating the current terror wave by dubbing it the “Al-Quds Intifada,” while putting cardinal emphasis on opening a front against Israel both in the West Bank and within Israel itself by calling on Israeli Arabs to take an active part in the struggle. Gaza serves as a base for setting the terror wave in motion. Apart, though, from a few attacks (the firing of a few rockets, some sniper fire, and breaches of the border fence), the Hamas leadership is refraining as in the past from responding to the “assault on the Palestinians” with massive rocket fire from Gaza at Israeli communities.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri made clear (in the Hamas daily Felesteen, October 14, 2005) that Hamas wants to sustain what it has called “the popular nature of the Al-Quds Intifada” while keeping it focused on the West Bank and Jerusalem, along with attacks within Israel. Abu Zuhri also underlined the harnessing of legal tools and of the human rights organizations to the terror organizations’ struggle against Israel, and particularly, as he called it, against “extrajudicial executions” of Palestinians (in other words, those killed during attempts to murder Israeli civilians and soldiers with knives, vehicles, and so on).
The Hamas leadership, then, does not want to open an immediate military front against Israel in Gaza, but rather to focus the terror activity on the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Israel itself. The overriding goal is to undermine the PA’s rule.
Hamas’s policy reflects the terror organization’s great self-confidence, and the sense that the extensive military infrastructure it has developed in Gaza, along with its ability to remain in power even after Israel’s military operations, affords it a measure of deterrence against a further Israeli military campaign.
In actuality, Gaza has become an independent Palestinian state, and this Hamas-ruled state is making a pitch, by means of the “Al-Quds Intifada,” to annex the West Bank as well.
This, in turn, is only a phase in the phased plan to implement an ethnic cleansing of the Jews from the Land of Israel. As stated by Mahmoud al-Zahar (Falestin, October 17, 2015), head of Hamas’s Political Department and considered one of the pillars of the movement, the struggle to “expel the Jews from all Palestine is a religious commandment prior to it’s being a national duty.”