While the world demanded that the Israelis stop the airstrikes that were destroying the infrastructure of Hamas and the terrorist organization itself calling for a truce, thousands of Hamas supporters took to the streets celebrating their “victory” after the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire took effect.
Hamas Chief Thanks Iran for Weapons and Money
The world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism was credited with supplying arms and cash to Hamas. Nonetheless, the Biden administration remains intent on removing economic sanctions from and restarting the nuclear talks with Iran, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Hamas chief and one of two disputed leaders of the Palestinian Authority, Ismail Haniyeh, dispelled the cause of the violence while thanking Iran for supplying Hamas with arms, rockets, and cash.
Hamas launched more than 4,000 rockets at Israel during the confrontation. While many were the crude Qassem rockets that are as likely to fall on Gaza territory as in Israel, Hamas now has plenty of more advanced rockets and technology from Iran.
“This is a divine victory… This harsh blow will leave a deep impact on [Israel],” Haniyeh said according to the Times of Israel. “Praise to you, God, for this blessed, awesome victory,” he added.
“Jerusalem remains the center of the conflict,” he said from his office in Qatar where he remains hidden from Israeli airstrikes. He vowed that the violence will continue.
Haniyeh also thanked “the Islamic Republic of Iran; who did not hold back with money, weapons and technical support.”
“We will use the aid of other Arab countries as well,” he added.
After the Israeli military withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Israeli intelligence began uncovering evidence that Hamas had built a supply line of weapons and cash from longtime supporters Iran and Syria.
Longer-range rockets, powerful explosives, metal, and machinery came across Gaza’s southern border with Egypt. Intelligence analysts believe that longer-range and much more accurate rockets were shipped to Sudan, then trucked across the Egyptian desert and smuggled through numerous narrow tunnels beneath the Sinai Peninsula.
Hamas had amassed at least 7,000 Katyushas and the Iranian-supplied Fajr-5, which were used during the 2008 and 2012 wars with Israel. Now, with Iranian technology and an influx of Iranian cash, they are able to build the missiles domestically.
Hamas Was Hoping to Undermine the Abraham Accords
The violence was blamed on arrests inside the Al-Aqsa mosque and the evictions of Palestinian families from East Jerusalem. Yet, it now appears that Hamas’s ulterior motive was to undermine the Abraham Accords whereby Israel had normalized relations with other Arab countries.
“This battle has destroyed the project of ‘coexistence’ with the Israeli occupation, of the project ‘normalization’ with Israel,” Haniyeh said.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz dispelled Hamas’s claims of victory. He ominously warned that while the ceasefire will remain unconditional, the Israelis will not stop in trying to find and kill the head of Hamas’s military wing, Muhammad Deif. Gantz stated that all Hamas leaders remain potential targets.
“It will not be the last time we try,” Gantz said of trying to kill Deif. “We’ll succeed in the end… For all Hamas leaders responsible for firing and launching terror against civilians — their blood is on their own hands.”
“We achieved all the goals we set for ourselves — severely hitting Hamas, its operatives, infrastructure, and anything to do with its offensive capabilities,” Gantz specified.
Speaking about the thousands of Hamas’s rockets, most of which were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense systems, he added, ‘Hamas didn’t manage to do anything effective.”
While Hamas will “always push the victory narrative,” he said, in truth “Gaza is in ruins because of Hamas’s actions.”
Gantz and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu encouraged international cooperation in rebuilding Gaza’s infrastructure which took a beating during the airstrikes. Nevertheless, they specified that the rebuilding should be under the Palestinian Authority auspices, not Hamas.
“If we are only pulled toward where the extremists take us, nothing good will grow,” Gantz said. “We need to look for moderate channels and condition aid on proper civil development of the Gaza Strip.”
A Hamas Victory That Never Happened
But if the reaction of the Palestinians is any indication, the effort to support the Palestinian Authority in relief efforts will be lost in the euphoria of Palestine’s supposed victory.
After days of telling international media of the carnage wrought by the Israelis, on Friday, thousands in the streets waved Palestinian flags claiming victory. They even shouted down and expelled Palestinian Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Mohammed Hussein from the Al-Aqsa Mosque which prevented him from completing his sermon.
The reason? He wasn’t supportive enough of Hamas during the latest struggle. Many of the men shouting at him repeated the slogan, “Go away, go away, we don’t want to see the dogs of the Palestinian Authority.”
Meanwhile, Netanyahu stated that the “rules of the game had changed” and henceforth, any rocket attacks by Hamas will not be tolerated.
“We changed the equation not only as regards to the operation but also as regards the future. If Hamas thinks we will tolerate a ‘drizzle’ of rockets, it is mistaken,” he said, referring to the near-constant number of rockets and projectiles launched at Israel.
“We will respond with a whole new level of force to every instance of aggression against the Gaza-envelope communities or anywhere else in Israel.”
Portentously, less than 24 hours after the ceasefire was agreed, more violence erupted on Temple Mount in Jerusalem as Arabs praying at the Al-Aqsa mosque began throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli troops nearby. Israeli soldiers responded with rubber bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades.