Hamas is looking for an achievement

Hamas is in internal distress because of the pressure of the security prisoners on its leadership and sharp criticism of the Palestinian street and it is looking for an achievement that will preserve its status. Hamas is planning kidnappings of Israeli soldiers and civilians to start negotiations on a new prisoner exchange deal and is preparing for a new round of fighting against Israel.

A few days ago, the Hamas organization unexpectedly published a video in which the Israeli prisoner Avera Mengistu, who has been held captive by Hamas since 2014, was seen for the first time, and sparked a wave of assessments in the Israeli security establishment regarding the reasons that pushed it to publish the video.

The popular assessment in the Israeli security sevrices is that Hamas is under a lot of pressure and is looking for achievements to strengthen its position on the Palestinian street.

Hamas had great achievements in Palestinian public opinion following its surprise rocket attack on Jerusalem in May 2021 that led to a major IDF operation in the Gaza Strip, but it seems that these achievements have been in the process of being eroded for several months now.

The Hamas organization sees the rise of the new right-wing government to power in Israel as an opportunity to achieve a breakthrough in the deadlock created in the negotiations on a new prisoner exchange deal.

Senior officials in Hamas estimate that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the only political figure in Israel today who can lead to a new prisoner exchange deal as he led towards the Shalit deal in 2011.
Hamas also published a short video of the Israeli prisoner Hisham al-Sayeed before June of last year as part of its psychological warfare against Israel and its attempt to arouse Israeli public opinion so that it would put pressure on the government to move forward with a new prisoner exchange deal.

Hamas focuses its psychological warfare on the two Israeli captives in its hands, who are left alive, who are from the Arab sector and the Ethiopian sector to try and create the false narrative that the Israeli governments take a racist approach and abandoned them because of their origin.

Criticism of Hamas

On the Palestinian street and also among security prisoners in Israeli prisons, there is increasing criticism of the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip for not being able to pressure Israel to agree to a new prisoner exchange deal even though it holds bargaining chips: two living Israeli citizens and two dead bodies of IDF soldiers.

The criticism of Hamas is also due to the fact that it has little representation among the armed terrorist groups in the northern West Bank, which mainly consist of operatives of the Islamic Jihad and Fatah organizations, and the fact that since May 2021 it has hardly launched rockets at Israel.

The last military confrontation against Israel in August 2022 was carried out by the Islamic Jihad organization while the Hamas organization stood by and did not participate in the fighting.

Hamas officials say that the Gaza Strip contributed its part to the military conflict against Israel through rounds of fighting that caused great damage and losses to the residents of the Gaza Strip and that now it is the West Bank’s turn to participate militarily in the fight against Israel.

Regarding the sparse participation of Hamas operatives in the armed groups in the northern West Bank, Hamas excuses this by saying that the Israeli Shin Bet arrested many operatives of the organization and that the security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority succeeded in thwarting many Hamas actions.

Mahmoud al-Zahar, a member of the political bureau of Hamas, confirmed this in an interview he gave on January 12 to the Quds News Agency.

He explained that the participation of the Hamas organization in further rounds of fighting against Israel will exhaust its power in the Gaza Strip and harm its ability to liberate all of Palestine.
This is not a weakness or an escape from responsibility, this is a humanitarian approach, you cannot enter a boxing match without preparing well against your opponent, he claimed.

He added that the resistance activity in the West Bank covers up the relative calm that prevails in the Gaza Strip and strengthens the Strip.

Where are things going?

The assessment in the Israeli security establishment is that Hamas will not accept the impasse pending the new prisoner exchange deal and that it will try to kidnap Israeli soldiers at the Gaza border in order to restart negotiations on the deal.

Hamas is in dire straits and must take actions that will show the security prisoners and the Palestinian street that it is doing everything to force Israel to release a large number of security prisoners from its prisons.

At the same time, Hamas is preparing for a new round of fighting against Israel, although it is not interested in it now, an attempted kidnapping of Israeli soldiers or civilians on the border of the Gaza Strip may result in a strong military response from Israel.

Hamas also takes into account that the new right-wing government may decide on a large military operation in the northern West Bank against the armed terrorist groups and that it will not be able to stand by without participating in the battle after determining the equation of the unification of the fronts against Israel in May 2021.

In recent months, the military wing of Hamas has carried out several military exercises that also included a scenario of infiltration into Israel, attacks on settlements and military bases in the Gaza Strip, and killing and kidnapping attacks.

Hamas is also working to restore the offensive tunnels that were damaged during the war in May 2021 and to renew its stockpile of rockets.

Yoni Ben Menachem Senior Middle East Analyst

About Yoni Ben Menachem

Yoni Ben Menachem is a Middle East senior analyst ,a journalist and
the former CEO of the Israel Broadcasting Authority(IBA). He has
decades of experience in written and video journalism. Ben
Menachem’s path in the media world began as a producer for
Japanese television in the Middle East. After that, he held many key
positions in the media The Israeli: CEO of the Israel Broadcasting
Authority, director of “Kol Israel” Radio, reporter on West Bank and
Gaza Strip affairs, political reporter and commentator, commentator
on Middle East affairs and editor-in-chief and presenter of the
program “Middle East Magazine”. 

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