The growing Hamas effort to promote terrorism in the West Bank, the shooting incident along the Gaza Strip border last week, and the rocket launch at Tel Aviv over the weekend, allegedly triggered by lightning, should be a warning for the Israeli policymakers not to be lulled into a false sense of security.
If we were to look at actions and comments made by both Israel and Hamas since the Gaza war in May 2021, known as Operation Guardian of the Walls, we would notice a glaring discrepancy between the apparent intentions of the two sides.
Israel is working on improving the economy in the Hamas-controlled enclave to make life in the Gaza Strip better, since Israeli officials believe it will give incentive to the local population to stand up against the Jihadist principals, promoted by Hamas and its leader Yahya Sinwar.
Hamas, however, is using the ceasefire reached following the May war to rehabilitate its military power ahead of a future conflict, and endlessly threatens to renew the violence if its demands aren't met not only when it comes to developments in Gaza, but also in Jerusalem, the West Bank and in Israel's prisons where many Palestinian inmates are held.
Israeli policymakers are required to change their mindsets and actions when it comes to the Gaza Strip.
First, it is necessary to recognize the limitations of the Western way of thinking that good economics can shortstop radical ideologies.
This model has failed many times over the past decades in the Middle East, including during Operation Guardian of the Walls, in which Hamas for the first time in its history imitated an on Israel attack for religious motives. And the attack began with a blatant violation of the previous ceasefire arrangement, without any tension in the Gaza Strip and with the civilian situation there improving rapidly at the time.
Secondly, there is a need to for Israel to put their money where their mouth is and follow its own mottos. During Operation Guardian of the Walls, many Israeli officilas were saying that "what was in the past, won't be in the future".
Israel's promotion of civil gestures toward the Gaza Strip, like giving out work permits to merchants, without demanding Hamas returns the fallen soldiers and civilians, and stops rearming and promoting terror in the West Bank and Jerusalem, may result in a temporary quiet in the area, but it also could become a strategical challenge in the long run.
The current Israeli policy embodies the recognition of Hamas as a legitimate ruler of Gaza, reinforcing its status in the Palestinian system, and minimizing the possibility of a public protest against the organization, as well as the possibility of the Palestinian Authority taking over the Gaza Strip, politically.
Israel faces a dilemma between a bad alternative and a problem that currently has no proper solution. A lenient Israeli response to attacks originating from Gaza will probably entail even more similar attacks, but may also strengthen Israel's deterrence, jeopardize the relations between the organization and the Gazan public, and disrupt its efforts in becoming "the Hezbollah in the southern border".
Most importantly, Israel needs to improve its ability to understand Hamas' logic. It is an organization that is driven by performative actions in order to fulfill its long-term ideological objectives. Hamas occasionally agrees to a ceasefire, because it serves its motives and interests, but a good peaceful life for the Palestinians is surely not one of their objectives.
For Hamas, the wellbeing of Gaza's residents is a consideration, not a constraint, and Israel tends to have a hard time understanding that. Hamas is driven by a different set of values, and at the end of the end its actions are the result of their passion for their dangerous ideology.
The fact that the latest cross-border round of fighting has not escalated into something bigger is not a guarantee that Hamas won't violate the ceasefire agreement with Israel again, according to its own interests.
As a result, the next time Hamas choses to attack Israel by surprise, the hit may be more devastating than before.