In the midst of the ongoing conflict with Israel, Hamas, the governing body of the Gaza Strip, has taken strategic measures to safeguard its interests and pursue its long-term geopolitical objectives. This article explores the steps taken by Hamas to endure a protracted conflict and its goals in the current situation.
Hamas has meticulously stockpiled various resources, including weapons, missiles, food, and medical supplies, in preparation for a prolonged standoff with Israel. Anonymous sources with knowledge of the organization’s leadership revealed that Hamas is confident in its ability to resist an Israeli advance by utilizing a network of tunnels beneath Gaza City, allowing its fighters to employ urban guerrilla tactics effectively.
The ultimate objective for Hamas is to leverage international pressure on Israel to cease its military operations, as civilian casualties mount. They hope that this pressure will lead to a ceasefire and a negotiated settlement that might result in substantial concessions, such as the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Israeli hostages.
Hamas has made its intentions clear in indirect negotiations mediated by Qatar, emphasizing the importance of securing a prisoner release in exchange for Israeli captives. In the longer term, they aim to end the 17-year blockade on Gaza, halt Israeli settlement expansion, and address what they perceive as heavy-handed actions by Israeli security forces at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
International experts have expressed growing concerns, with the United Nations calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza to avert a potential humanitarian catastrophe. The situation appears to be spiraling, with no clear resolution in sight for either side.
Marwan Al-Muasher, a former Jordanian foreign minister and deputy prime minister, warns that there is no quick military solution to the conflict and that we are in for an extended period of uncertainty. Israel’s relentless use of aerial firepower and the recent attack by Hamas, in which they killed Israeli citizens and took hostages, have further escalated the situation.
The casualty count in Gaza has risen significantly, and the dire conditions faced by the 2 million Gazans trapped in the enclave, with limited access to basic necessities, have triggered protests worldwide. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to eradicate Hamas and has rejected calls for a ceasefire, accusing the organization of using civilians as shields.
Hamas, on the other hand, claims to be fully prepared for a long-term conflict. Adeeb Ziadeh, an expert in international affairs, believes that the precision and intensity of their attack on October 7th indicate a well-thought-out plan for a prolonged battle.
According to a source familiar with the White House’s thinking, Washington anticipates that Hamas will attempt to engage Israeli forces in street-to-street combat in Gaza to inflict heavy casualties, both military and civilian, and erode public support for an extended conflict.
Hamas boasts an estimated 40,000 fighters and utilizes an extensive network of fortified tunnels. They have demonstrated the ability to emerge from these tunnels to engage Israeli tanks and then retreat into the underground labyrinth. Israel’s military has been working to locate and destroy these tunnel shafts during the complex urban warfare in Gaza.
Hamas has steadily improved its military capabilities, particularly in the development of missiles, over recent conflicts. They have extended the range of their rockets, posing a significant threat to Israel. Their ability to surprise Israel with new tactics and capabilities in each conflict is a cause for concern.
It is essential to note that Hamas, despite being designated a terrorist organization by Israel, the US, and the EU, has shown a willingness to consider a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, albeit without explicitly recognizing Israel’s right to exist. The recent attack and the ongoing conflict have reignited discussions about Palestinian statehood.
Hamas’s actions have also emphasized the significance of engaging with the Palestinian issue in the broader context of Middle Eastern stability. While Israel has pursued alliances with Arab Sunni nations, the enduring conflict with Hamas underscores the necessity of addressing the Palestinian question for lasting peace in the region.