The Palestinians won in Jerusalem but Hamas defeated them in Gaza

The Hamas decision to go to war was particularly shocking in terms of timing.
Monday 17/05/2021
Smoke billows from the area around the harbour in Gaza City, following an Israeli naval bombardment on May 17, 2021. (AFP)
Smoke billows from the area around the harbour in Gaza City, following an Israeli naval bombardment on May 17, 2021. (AFP)

There are two issues that must be addressed before commenting on the brutal aggression against the Palestinians in Gaza.

The first issue concerns the legal status of Gaza. Is it a state, a province or an independent self-governing entity?

All of this leads to questions about of the legal authority in the Strip that does not fall under the Palestinian Authority, while there are countries, such as Turkey, Iran and Qatar, that built a corridor to the Hamas mini-state.

As for the second issue, it concerns the Hamas movement. Is it a religious group, a national liberation movement, or an armed militia that is hired by this or that party to achieve goals that are not related to the Palestinian struggle?

Hamas, in all its wars, has obeyed no national source of authority nor followed anational consensus.

It has started its wars whenever it wanted and for reasons of its own. It has taken into account no other Palestinian party, even if that party is recognised by the international community as the representative of the Palestinian people.

In light of these two considerations, it is possible to look at the devastation that Hamas has caused and continues to cause, affecting people and buildings in Gaza as being anomalous, in the sense that it is totally isolated from the already stalled Palestinian national struggle.

This struggle has for nearly a quarter of a century witnessed a remarkable decline in terms of goals, means and capabilities. It has transformed the Palestinian Authority, which was supposed to be the fruit of an arduous process of struggle, into a burden borne by the Palestinian people, both at home and abroad.

Just as the PA ended the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, Hamas fired the bullet of mercy at the Palestinian Authority.

So the Palestinian people faced its enemy without any political cover. During the crisis of the settlers’ assault on the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in Jerusalem, in which the whole world was forced to stand with the Palestinian people, the Palestinians demonstrated a strong will to defend their legitimate historical rights to their land, boosted by having the law on their side.

The Palestinian popular position was a lesson for Israel that discovered the futility of all the attempts made during the past quarter century to dilute Palestinian rights and instil new Palestinian generations with despair.

It showed that the people  really are the source of decisions in relation to the historic Palestinians constants, regardless of the ploys through which the official and internationally-recognised Palestinian establishment packages such rights according to Israeli desires.

The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah failed without a doubt to manage its relations with Israel when it abandoned these constants. It also failed to impose those failures on the Palestinian people, as being the only option possible.

Therefore, the Palestinians were victorious in Jerusalem, but Hamas decided to defeat them in Gaza. How did this absurdity come about and what does it mean?

The Hamas decision to go to war was particularly shocking in terms of timing.

Hamas was unhappy to see the Palestinians of Jerusalem come out victorious thanks to the solidarity of the whole world with them, even though they did not fire a single bullet, did not throw a stone and did not stab a settler with a knife.

The way they defended themselves and the truth was peaceful and that did not change, even in the worst moments of their clashes with the nasty settlers.

This was a rare bright moment in the history of the Palestinian national struggle. I do not know what the Ramallah authority did to express its appreciation. All I know is that Hamas spoiled the moment.

It is not fair for the people of Gaza to pay the price of a victory of their brothers in Jerusalem.

It will later be said that Hamas was reckless and was driven by its recklessness into a losing adventure similar to that of Hezbollah in 2006.

This is an accurate assessment, at least in part. But it is not accurate when it comes to motives.

In 2006, Hezbollah was playing stupidly, leading Lebanon to ruin. As for Hamas, it did what it did while being fully aware of what its adventure would entail.

It knew that Israel would be extricated from its predicament in Jerusalem and spoil the Palestinian victory there, as its destruction machine rushes toward Gaza to  kill people.

But this is not a free service that Hamas is rendering to Israel.

Without a shadow of a doubt, Hamas hopes to be a substitute for the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah and to be able to take the initiative in negotiating with Israel and through it with the world.

That is what Hezbollah had previously tried as it invited the world to negotiate with it if it wanted to save Lebanon. Will Israel now fulfil Hamas’s wishes?