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Hamas´ restraint policy in the Gaza Strip: the results of the tension between Hamas´ jihadist ideology and pragmatic (IICC) Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center) 05/23/12)Source: http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/en/article/20335 Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (IICC Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (IICC Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Constraints and Considerations Influencing Hamas´ Terrorist Attack Policy

1. In the three and a half years which have passed since Operation Cast Lead, the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip has maintained a policy of restraint regarding terrorist attacks, different from its policy before the operation. Hamas´ policy maneuvers between the movement´s Islamist jihad identity and the constraints and considerations which direct it toward pragmatism.

2. The main factors influencing its current policy are, in our assessment, the following:

1) Ideology: In essence, Hamas is a radical Islamist movement, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, for which jihad and "resistance" [i.e., terrorism and violence] are components central to its identity (as made clear in Hamas´ 1988 charter, by frequent statements from the movement´s senior members and years of terrorist attacks against the State of Israel). Hamas regards the path of "resistance"/jihad as its primary, but not only,method for advancing its strategic goals. Secondary methods include political activity and theso-called"popular resistance" (the method currently favored by the Palestinian Authority). Hamas´ central strategic objective is the "liberation of Palestine" from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean sea, that is, the annihilation of the State of Israel, the return of the Palestinian refugees to Israeli territory and the establishment of an Islamic Palestinian state.

2) Governmental constraints: Since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in June 2007, the demands of governing have grown, especially those relating to preserving and reinforcing its control and sovereignty over the Gaza Strip, one step on its way to taking over the entire Palestinian arena. That consideration, which edges Hamas toward pragmatism, forces it to consider the needs of the million and a half Gazans for whom it is responsible and providing practical responses and solutions for routine difficulties (a good example is the recent energy crisis).

3) Other considerations: Hamas has to cope with Israel´s post- Operation Cast Lead deterrent power, which has made it less willing to enter into a military confrontation with Israel at a time and under circumstances Hamas considers inconvenient. Another consideration is Hamas´ desire tobuy time to build up its military might without interruption, and especially to improve its capabilities to hit the Israeli heartland with long-range rockets.

Overview of Hamas´ Restraint Policy

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