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Hamas winning? Wish I knew

by Shmuel Rosner

November 20, 2012 | 7:24 am

Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal speaking a press conference in Cairo, November 19, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

There's a chance that a cease-fire will soon be agreed upon by Israel and Hamas. But before you do like everyone else and jump to conclusions as to who's winning and who's losing in this round of violence – consider the following paragraphs from the story I wrote for the Jewish Journal's print edition:

Israelis got a glimpse last week of the damage Hamas can inflict on Israel. Its citizens discovered that Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are indeed within the reach of its rockets. That Hamas' threats are no joke. But they still don’t know why it all began. What was the calculus behind Hamas’ decision to allow and abet this growing harassment of Israeli civilians? What was the logic behind it – assuming there is some such logic? What was Hamas trying to achieve?

Not quite knowing what Hamas was trying to achieve is a problem for all those trying to asses Hamas’ ability to actually meet its goals. Of course, it is possible that Hamas was just miscalculating its way into this week of skirmishes; it is possible that its leaders did not quite understand that Israel is reaching boiling point. However, there are also other possibilities to be considered. Maybe Hamas needed the fight. Maybe it needed to reassert its presence as a player who can make things complicated for all parties a moment before the Palestinian Authority, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, was going to the UN to get the coveted seat of an almost-official member. Maybe it was trying to send a message to a disappointing Egyptian government that hadn’t yet proven to be the ally that Hamas expected it to be.

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