Last night, Jihadists groups in Gaza launched another “toothpick rocket” on Ashkelon-Israel, and Israel later in the night responded by targeting Hamas facilities. “The sky was lit up in the middle of absolute darkness” my sister told me, but fortunately, no casualties were reported on the Israeli side, and only one middle-level injury was reported in Gaza. “We were watching Guardians of the Galaxy, when the airstrike interrupted. We froze in place for a minute, and then we continued watching the movie. It’s nothing unusual,” my sister said.
The incident barely drew any media attention, al-Jazzera for instance, mentioned the airstrikes at dawn time for less than 30 seconds, and so did Hamas’s official channel “al-Aqsa.” The same night, Hamas unsurprisingly responded in order to preserve self-respect through its spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum, who merely wrote on his facebook: “The Israeli deliberate targeting of Hamas sites in Gaza is a dangerous transgression that the enemy bears all its consequences. Gaza is not an experimental square for the occupation’s weapons.” Then they both moved on and the incident was made history…
This incident and its aftermath seemed to be identical with another similar one that occurred two weeks ago. Same rocket, same pre-calculated retaliation and same Hamas statement, and it has actually developed to become a routine since 2014; an eye for an eye procedure. Yet, only the people of Gaza would be absorbed in the thought “if that’s the beginning of the promised escalation that will set the city another 100 years backwards, or is it merely breaking through boredom as usual?” a friend in Gaza told me this morning, “the people talk nonstop about the omens of the imminent final war until it sounded as the light at the end of the dark cave; the relief of martyrdom… but it seems to never come.”
Ever since operation protective edge in the summer of 2014, Israel and Hamas have reached to somewhat a desired “deterrence equation,” where each side is careful to maintain and invest in the status quo; Hamas’s elite polices the Israeli siege, arrests jihadists and prevents as many rockets from falling into Israel as possible, in return Israel no longer targets its senior leadership for assassination. Yet, whenever a “rocket” slips from Hamas and falls into Israel, Israel would remind Hamas of the price by targeting their own facilities so that they do a better job next time.
This equation translates on the ground into Hamas deploying so-called “field control” forces, which are authorized to shoot-to-kill whoever attempts to launch a toothpick against Israel. In return, Hamas leaders can come out of their hides and walk down the street fearlessly, displaying their might on their own people. Ismael Hanyia continues his daily routine of running around the city pretending to try losing weight. Yahia al-Sinwar has just bought a house in al-Shiekh Radwan neighborhood to “be close to the city center,” as he spends his day lecturing Hamas people about how awesome life in Gaza is (for him and his family and friends) in compare to old days in prison. While Qassam commanders are barbequing on the beach every other day. Mahmoud Zahar is fixing the second print of his least-read book “The Animal Kingdom,” where he claims that stoning fornicators is inspired from nature, namely what he calls that “crow’s courts.”
However, in that status quo, Hamas puts lipstick on a pig by frequently making speeches and conferences to shout apocalyptic slogans that are picked up and used to justify the blockade, in addition to periodic military parades to remind the people of their power and what they are able to never do; “liberating Palestine.”
For Israel, Hamas is more preferred than their only potential successor; anarchist jihadist groups with no organizational structures that can never be tracked down. While for Hamas, they have never been more reluctant to go through another round with Israel, and for the sake of avoiding such fate, they are now doing exactly what they have been criticizing the Palestinian Authority for doing; “policing the occupation.” Yet, they manage to get away with it by consistently claiming that the “resistance” is in an indefinite preparation for the next and final battle.
In one word, the armed resistance seems to be long dead, but it’s still Hamas’s winning card to discredit criticism and retain control, and because the people could now see that equation properly, the Palestinian and Arab people are able to accept the demise of the so-called “resistance.”
So, just remember, next time a rocket falls into Israel, it will not go far beyond “an eye for an eye,” and the slow death of the Gazan people continues, amidst the world’s best efforts to keep them silent in their last breath.