Hamas, documenting your own war crimes is a double-edged sword

Analysis: With videos showing slaughter of Israeli civilians, global community will rebuff Palestinian attempts to cast themselves as underdog against brutal occupier; in short term, this grants us legitimacy to respond
Dr. Ori Wertman|
The recent attack by Hamas that occurred on Saturday will be remembered as the Jewish state's 9/11. It appears that Israel's strategic approach during the period leading up to this attack was to refrain from completely defeating Hamas. Instead, the goal was to maintain Hamas as a governing authority in the Gaza Strip while weakening its military capabilities and deterring further aggression.
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The objective of Israel's military operations, starting with Operation Cast Lead in 2008 and continuing until recently, was to weaken Hamas' capabilities and limit its role in governing the population in the Gaza Strip. Additionally, another aim was to foster the development of two rival entities: the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, resulting in a fragmented Palestinian system overall.
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דיווח חמאס: יחידת הקסאם משתלטת על מעבר ארז
דיווח חמאס: יחידת הקסאם משתלטת על מעבר ארז
An IDF vehicle taken inside Gaza
The commencement of the war at this moment is expected. The Palestinians, who have successfully persuaded stakeholders both in Israel and worldwide that without a resolution to the conflict achieving normalization with the Arab world is unattainable, have been greatly disheartened by the advancements made with Saudi Arabia. The recent agreement formed in Washington, Riyadh and Jerusalem has the potential to deal a devastating blow to the "Palestinian taboo," ultimately leading to the Palestinian's perpetual isolation.
While the Palestinian Authority is not effectively functioning, Hamas has been actively operating for a significant time, receiving direct support from Iran with the aim of provoking unrest in the West Bank and inciting the Palestinian population.
The Palestinian street, which lacks a recognized governing body other than those seen as collaborating with Israel, is the target of Hamas' efforts. Hamas seeks to instigate a popularly driven intifada in the West Bank, similar to the second intifada, forcing the PA to either participate in violence and terrorism or risk losing its influence over the people permanently.
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שירי ביבס וילדיה
שירי ביבס וילדיה
Israeli mother and her two children kidnapped into Gaza
The Palestinians believe that launching another intifada, or a similar war or operation like the recent one, will help them present themselves as the weaker party fighting for their independence against the occupying and oppressive Israel.
Moreover, they anticipate that even the countries involved in the Abraham Accords - the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan and, potentially, Saudi Arabia - will be unable to remain indifferent due to the potential backlash from their own public. They also expect a similar response from the authorities in the established peace countries, Egypt and Jordan, as their citizens will not tolerate any perceived betrayal of the Arab nation or abandonment of the Palestinian people.
Alas, Hamas miscalculated by initiating the war through a series of attacks aimed at innocent civilians. They deliberately documented these actions to generate a psychological and awareness impact against Israel.
אורי ורטמןDr. Ori Wertman
The videos and images circulating on social media, portraying the brutal killings and abductions of men, women, children and the elderly by armed individuals and their transportation to the Gaza Strip, have become valuable ammunition for Israel in the international battle for public opinion.
These graphic images remind the Western world of the disturbing videos they have witnessed from Syria and Iraq over the past decade. The average American internet user or European television viewer struggles to differentiate between Hamas and Islamic State, and they comprehend the formidable adversary Israel faces. By documenting these barbaric acts, we gain immediate legitimacy to take action against the Gaza Strip. Seizing this opportunity and acting swiftly would be advantageous.
  • Dr. Ori Wertman is a research fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS) and a research fellow at the University of South Wales in Britain
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