Hamas retakes the lead in attacking Israel (AFP) AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE) By Adel Zaanoun 06/22/12)
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Confrontation this week between Hamas and Israel, in which the
Islamist group fired rockets at its enemy after a year of standing in
the wings, reflects a bolder stance after the rise to prominence in
Egypt of the Muslim Brotherhood, experts say.
The violence began on Monday, when Israeli air raids killed four
Palestinian militants. The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military
wing of Gaza´s Hamas rulers, said one of the victims was a member of
On Wednesday, the Brigades declared a ceasefire in the violence,
which had cost the lives of 10 Palestinians and saw four Israeli
border guards wounded, saying it had fired 120 rockets since the
There were sporadic attacks from Gaza over the following two days
without an Israeli response, and on Friday an Israeli air strike
killed one Palestinian.
Until now, "April 2011 was the last time that Hamas officially took
part in rocket fire," analysts Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff wrote
in the Haaretz daily.
"Most of the rockets have been launched at military bases or other
security forces -- a new method of operation for the organisation.
"If until now it has refrained from launching rockets into Israel, it
is clear that, over the past two days, Hamas has changed the rules of
the game and will only launch rockets at military targets," they said
Ahmad al-Turk, a professor at the Islamic University in Gaza, said
the political situation in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood
experienced a heady rise in popularity and influence after the
overthrow last year of president Hosni Mubarak, "is working in favour
of Hamas and the Palestinians."
The latest round of violence coincided with Egyptian Muslim
Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi´s claim on Monday that he had won
a weekend run-off for the presidency against Mubarak´s last premier,
Also claiming victory, on Thursday, Shafiq said he was confident he
would be declared Egypt´s "legitimate" president.
Mukhaimer Abu Saada, a political science professor at Gaza´s Al-Azhar
University, said Morsi´s declaration led Hamas to "test Israel to
determine whether it has the intention of launching a war against
A senior Israeli official said bluntly: "There is a connection
between the flare-up of violence in Gaza and the Egyptian election."
"The Islamists are trying to change the status quo," added the
official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"They are hoping that an Islamist government in Cairo would be more
complacent about terrorist activities in Gaza and (Egypt´s) Sinai,"
which borders the Jewish state.
Egypt, under the late president Anwar Sadat, was the first Arab
country to sign a peace treaty with Israel, and Mubarak had honoured
that treaty during his three decades in power.
For its part, Israel´s Maariv daily on Friday offered a much more
straightforward explanation of what had prompted Hamas to break its
de facto ceasefire.
Analyst Ofer Shelah wrote: "This time around Hamas leapt to the
forefront, for a few obvious reasons, first and foremost being that a
Hamas senior official was targeted as part of the response to the
terror attack at the beginning of the week.
"This policy isnít new: Israel decided a while ago that it views
Hamas as the sovereign responsible for (the Gaza Strip), and will act
against its people even when it is clear that they were not the ones
firing at us."
"On the other hand, Israel takes into account that there is a price
to dragging Hamas into the circle of violence, as it is more powerful
than Islamic Jihad or the minor organisations."
In the meantime, as the Al-Qassam Brigades agreed to a truce, Shelah
said "both sides are handling the conflict like hedgehogs: very
carefully. Each side says to itself that the other side just wants to
end things safely. No one has any achievable goals in sight."
(Copyright © 2012 Agence France Presse. 06/22/12)
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