“In an earlier clash, the three-week winter war of 2008-2009, many Palestinian rivals blamed Hamas’s rocket-firing bravado for bringing Israel’s military might down on Gaza.
That war ended with over 1,400 Palestinians in early graves and a territory scarred by bombing, shelling and invasion. Israel lost 13 lives in the lopsided battle, and Hamas licked its wounds.
This time is different. The Arab Spring has changed the Middle East, and Hamas has more powerful weapons…
Hamas also scored a diplomatic hit, with solidarity visits last week by the foreign ministers of Egypt and Tunisia while its positions were under attack.
Both countries were ruled by Western-backed autocrats last time Gaza was invaded, but popular uprisings have since swept them aside, and Islamists now dominate in Cairo and Tunis, representing masses who back their fellow Sunni Islamists, Hamas.”
- Nidal Al-Mughrabi, Al Arabia News.
This latest round of violence between Hamas and Israel is at least for now proving to be a PR victory for Hamas, but it could be a turning point on a couple of different fronts.
First, Hamas took a severe beating in the previous round of fighting. The war of 2008-2009 was (as far as my memory can recall) the most intense conflict between Hamas and Israel. During that fighting, Hamas was hurt severely. Since then Hamas had been relatively quiet leading some to speculate if Hamas had “forgotten about fighting” Israel. If this round of violence escalates to that level and Israel beats Hamas as badly as last time, it could cause some in the Middle East to question why they support an organization that is so ineffective.
But then again, current events may not escalate to that level. Even if they do, it may not go as well for Israel if Hamas has used the time since 2009 to regroup, organize and strengthen their capabilities.
Secondly, this conflict could bring about a change in Egypt’s foreign policy. So far President Morsi has upheld the peace treaty with Israel, tightly regulated border crossings with Gaza, and promised to protect the US embassy in Egypt if it is attacked. In other words he has tried not to offend the West.
Although, he has condemned Israel and their latest incursion into Gaza. Additionally, Morsi may face intense pressure from his own party (the Muslim Brotherhood) to take a stronger stand and to intervene militarily.
The next few weeks will likely be crucial in determining the trajectory that the Middle East will follow for the near future. The way I see it much is riding on the policy decisions of President Morsi.