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Hamas’ Attack on Israel Signals Power Play in Shifting Middle East Dynamics

In a surprising move, Hamas launched an assault on Israel, prompting questions about its goals and timing. While the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, declared war on Hamas and other Gaza factions, the real intentions behind the attack are still unfolding.

Hamas typically engages in conflicts for political reasons, seeking to maintain support within Gaza and beyond, ensuring its continued relevance. Their military leadership is well aware that occupying Israeli territory is beyond their capabilities. Instead, this operation aims to create terror and capture international attention, demonstrated by the kidnapping and killing of Israeli civilians.

The timing of this assault is closely tied to the wider regional context, including the escalating normalization efforts between Israel and Saudi Arabia, brokered by the United States. The Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, has remained ineffective, and Washington has attempted to advance Middle East diplomacy through separate agreements with Gulf nations, leaving a two-state solution in the background.

The stumbling blocks for this normalization process have been a far-right Israeli government, viewed as resistant to compromise, and Hamas, an unpredictable factor in Gaza. Surprisingly, there were recent signs of thawing relations between Saudi Arabia and Hamas, raising questions about the motives behind the attack.

The intricacies of Hamas’s decision-making are complex and may take time to fully understand. Israel, despite its proximity, was blindsided by the attack. Hamas appears to have chosen this moment to assert itself in the broader diplomatic landscape, seizing control over the Palestinian narrative.

This move highlights a longstanding gap between elite attitudes in Arab governance circles and the sentiments of the broader population. Israeli-Palestinian conflicts have previously exposed this divide, compelling Arab states to carefully balance public statements and actions. Hamas’s military commander, Mohammed Deif, framed the assault as a people’s revolution, seeking to rally Palestinians from East Jerusalem to northern Israel.

While the appeal to Al-Aqsa’s significance resonates with many, the scale of Hamas’s assault appears calculated to provoke a substantial Israeli response, inevitably leading to civilian casualties. Deif’s appeal extended to the “Islamic resistance in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon,” targeting countries with militant movements supported by Iran, notably Hezbollah in Lebanon.

This conflict has implications beyond Hamas, eroding the perception of Israeli security within its borders. Such developments will not go unnoticed by Hezbollah in Lebanon and militant groups in Syria, potentially altering the dynamics of the entire region.

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