The 2021 Gaza War: Hamas' Goals, Strategy, and Miscalculations

(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser - The 2021 Gaza War was provoked by Hamas to achieve political goals - and not to achieve tactical military goals. The initiation of the violence was not related to Gaza's situation preceding the conflict, which was relatively stable and improving steadily. Hamas was ready to take the leading role in the Palestinian domestic arena following the announced elections to the Palestinian parliament scheduled for May 22, 2021. However, when PA President Mahmoud Abbas realized that the rift inside Fatah would guarantee Hamas' victory, he decided to postpone the elections. This presented Hamas with an opportunity to take advantage of Abbas' show of weakness and present itself as the leader of the Palestinians. It raised the old libel that the "al-Aqsa Mosque is in danger," in tandem with disinformation about an imminent court decision regarding a few housing units in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Hamas then launched seven rockets toward Jerusalem. Hamas is satisfied with the results of the war. It has positioned itself as the most powerful force among the Palestinians and as the "protector of Jerusalem." Moreover, Hamas feels reassured that Israel has no intention to recapture Gaza. In addition, Hamas managed to provoke a considerable part of Arab society in Israel to support the use of violence against Israelis. At the same time, Hamas was surprised and overwhelmed by the magnitude of the Israeli response and expressed readiness for a ceasefire from the second day of the fighting. Israel demonstrated its intelligence dominance as it targeted key leaders, weapons production facilities, and other secret assets. Israel attacked 1,500 targets in Gaza with relatively little unintended collateral damage. Defensively, the Iron Dome missile defense system kept Israeli casualties relatively low. The writer, Director of the Project on Regional Middle East Developments at the Jerusalem Center, was formerly Director General of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs and head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence. This article is part of the forthcoming study - The Gaza War 2021: The Iranian and Hamas Attack on Israel.

2021-06-17 00:00:00

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