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  • Author: Amos Yadlin
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: Following the "March of Return" events led by Hamas on two turbulent Fridays at the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip, both sides declared victory. And in the case of such a blatantly asymmetric conflict between parties with opposing aims, both sides can indeed claim victory, precisely because they are conducting parallel maneuvers. Israel operates largely on a physical dimension (protecting its sovereign territory), while Hamas works mainly on the cognitive-political level. In a world of images, intensive information campaigns, and mass media (including fake news), a sense of victory on both sides could intensify the hostilities on the Gaza border and perhaps even beyond in the coming weeks. Israel must stress that it is defending a recognized international border; clarify the legality and proportionality of its use of live fire; expand its visual documentation of the events; update Arab countries about the facts and balance the pro-Hamas messages delivered in the Arab media; and prepare for an escalation of the conflict. Finally, while focused on the immediate challenge of mass demonstrations on the Gaza border, Israel must continue to address the underlying issue: the growing distress in Gaza and the collapse of its infrastructures will make it hard for Israel to continue managing the situation with relatively low political, military, and financial costs. Mid-May will be followed by the month of Ramadan and another scorching summer. Temporary success in containing the new challenge posed by Hamas will not defuse the social-economic-military time bomb ticking in the Strip.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Infrastructure, Conflict, Hamas
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Yohanan Tzoreff
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: The "March of Return" events have brought out the masses. It seems that since the first intifada the Palestinian arena has not witnessed such widespread mass participation as evident in the recent protests along the Gaza Strip border. At the same time, it is doubtful whether the crowds can deliver the same achievements they furnished in the first intifada. This is due to public suspicions regarding the intentions of both Fatah and Hamas, the absence of international and Arab support so far, and the deterrent element of Israel's response. A new chapter appears to have opened in the Israeli-Palestinian struggle, in which the Palestinian public is asked to decide which of the two paths proposed by the respective leaderships – in Ramallah and in Gaza – should be adopted. In the background are the echoes of failure of both paths – the path of negotiation and security coordination led by the Palestinian Authority, and the path of armed opposition led by Hamas. The main test now is for Hamas, as the ruler of the Strip. Will it succeed by means of the "March of Return," which it is leading but did not initiate, to extend the common denominator between the rival Palestinian camps, to heighten the motivation to maintain the tension along the border, until the planned climax on May 15? Or will it be satisfied with the attempt to place the blame for the failure of internal Palestinian reconciliation and the weakening internal reality on the Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah? Time will tell.
  • Topic: Refugees, Conflict, Hamas, Palestinian Authority
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza