It happened a few years ago when Egypt’s Islamic State branch began operating in northern Sinai, prompting scores of Hamas members to defect from the terror group and join the ranks of jihadist militants across the border.
In recent weeks, the signs of this phenomenon have been raising its head once again. Many members of Hamas’ military wing have been joining the ranks of various Gaza-based Salafi groups, who would never refuse a suicide initiative such as infiltrating into Israeli territory in order to carry out a deadly attack.
According to the latest ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas, these sort of supposedly independent attempts to carry out attacks on Israeli soil are meant to be thwarted by Gaza’s rulers. However, in light of recently emerged footage of Hamas operatives with batons chasing after Palestinian protesters during the weekly border demonstrations, puts the terror group in a difficult position.
The footage proves that Hamas has some sort of security coordination with the IDF, which would be unprecedented given the terror group’s constant criticism of the Palestinian Authority’s leadership for its cooperation with Israeli authorities.
That’s in addition to the fact that most Gazans don’t feel the arrangement with Israel bore any fruit since the economic situation in the Strip has not significantly improved. This leaves Hamas - a group established on the principle of armed resistance - feeling as though they’ve been backed into a corner.
That is why last week Hamas launched a campaign where all its A-list members - from Ismail Haniyeh to Yahya Sinwar - took to the streets of Gaza to take part in the meet-and-greet events with the local population.
The aim was to convey a message that the leadership is still in touch with the “regular” people. So, they all gave speeches glorifying the latest attacks on Israel and praising those who perpetrated them. Even though just a few days earlier, that same leadership labeled the militants who committed the attacks as "angry youth carrying out independent actions.”
The thing Hamas is most sensitive about is internal criticism. Whether this criticism relates to its inability to provide economically for two million Gaza residents or its constant calls for another intifada despite investing a lot of effort into reaching a ceasefire agreement with Israel.
So what Hamas is trying to do is to neutralize the criticism while simultaneously pushing Israel into the corner. The terror group has managed to do that in four easy steps.
First, it sent a message to the Egyptian mediators threatening Israel with “consequences” if it doesn’t ease the blockade on Gaza further as part of the ceasefire arrangement. Second, it leaked the content of that message to the media so everyone hears it loud and clear.
Third, the group made its senior officials issue statements warning that "all options are on the table." And finally, in order to prove they mean business, they fired a couple of rockets over the weekend, which they will likely once again blame on some “angry youth.”