why hamas is losing

  1. 5,748 Posts.
    Jun. 22, 2003
    Analysis by Erik Schechter: Why Hamas is losing

    For some time now, the Islamic Resistance Movement has been degenerating into a surreal cult of death cut loose from any realistic strategy or aim.

    Hamas is failing as an armed group, because unlike Hizbullah it cannot tell the difference between a Kassam rocket and a roadside bomb. It is failing because Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, quite inadvertently, has spoiled its only chance at success.

    When Israel was debating the merits of unilateral withdrawal from southern Lebanon, opponents of the idea worried that Hamas would interpret it as military weakness.

    The IDF pullout definitely stiffened Palestinian negotiating positions during peace talks in late 2000. According to then-foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, Yasser Arafat told him, "The Hizbullah were our pupils and, look, 400 of them kicked you out of Lebanon."

    But the Palestinians seemed to have read the Cliff's Notes version of the conflict. "The only analogy people seem to use," noted Cambridge professor Yezid Sayigh, "is that Hizbullah uses violence the gun and that, therefore, this is a sufficient example to follow."
    Neglected were the strategic advantages that benefitted the Lebanese Shi'ite militia. Israel had neither settlers nor an ideological stake in southern Lebanon, while Hizbullah had freedom of movement and training as it operated under the protective canopy of Syria.

    No less important, Hizbullah got the newest weapons from Iran. Hamas does not even get the "martyrdom payments" that Saddam Hussein once doled out.

    Hizbullah chose a modest objective and then, with cool precision, calibrated its tactics to meet it. It did not win by firing Katyusha rockets on Kiryat Shmona. It did not win by bombing the Jewish center in Buenos Aires in 1994.

    Hizbullah won because it drove a wedge between the Israeli public and the army. Indeed, it spent almost as much time reassuring civilians that it would not rocket Haifa or Tiberias as it did attacking soldiers in the "security zone."

    Hamas, by contrast, unites Israelis with its indiscriminate terror attacks.

    Finally, as a colleague of mine pointed out, the leaders of Hamas are cowards. They run like sissies from IAF helicopter gunships and ask the PA to install air raid sirens. Whatever happened to the glory of sacrificing oneself for the cause?

    Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah lost his son Hadi when, in September 1997, his special forces unit clashed with the IDF.

    Hamas leaders instead send their children abroad, out of harm's way.

    The wife of Hamas bigwig Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi said that she would not let her own son become a TATP-wrapped martyr.

    When IDF psychologist Anat Berko interviewed jailed recruiters of suicide bombers, one summed up his operational philosophy this way: "There are people who do the sending and there are people who get blown up.

    That's the way of the world."

    Targeted strikes threaten to collapse that self-serving distinction. In the meantime, though, suicide bombing does pay dividends.

    Take the case of the Hindu Tamils of Sri Lanka. Their fanatical, blood-soaked struggle for an independent homeland on the northern tip of that island forced the government to enter into peace talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), in 2001.

    But Hamas is not a separatist movement. It wants an Islamic Palestine from the river to the sea.
    As such, the Palestinian group resembles the Baader-Meinhoff Gang and other failed communist revolutionaries of the 1970s and 1980s.

    There is nothing the State of Israel can do to meets its demands aside from ceasing to exist.

    The threat of suicide terrorism nevertheless worked to some degree on successive Labor governments. It accelerated Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 1994, and redeployment from Palestinian cities, in 1995.

    Arafat would take on the enemies of peace, the Left believed. He just needed something to show for his moderation. And so, the PA played good cop to the bad cop played by Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

    This winning game could have gone on indefinitely, but Fatah got the jitters. The rejectionists were reaping all the glory on the Palestinian street. They were getting too powerful. So in 1996, Arafat created the Tanzim militia, which played a prominent role in the gun battles with the IDF following the opening of an exit to the Temple Mount Tunnel. Ever hopeful, the Left dismissed the episode as a freakish result of Netanyahu's mismanagement of the peace process.

    But in September 2000, Arafat gave a repeat performance with his thinly-disguised Aksa Martyrs Brigade. This time, the war was fought against a Labor government, and Ehud Barak dusted off the attack choppers.

    The PA lost more than just a few police stations in the process: namely, it lost the political leverage it gained from Hamas attacks. The terrorists could increase the pain, but no Israeli leader was going to run into Arafat's arms.

    Hamas kills more Israelis than Hizbullah ever did. Every day, the police receive 50 tips on potential suicide bombers. Yet Haifa University pollster Asher Arian noted that public morale is high.

    The average Israeli firmly believes in the Sharon line the pursuit of peace and the "extra-judicial killing" of terrorists.

    It is Hamas that is panicking. One could only snicker when, after the June 11 assassination attempt on Rantisi, Hamas spokesman Dr. Mahmoud Zahar warned Israelis that "everybody is a target."

    What exactly was new about his threat? It is not as if Hamas was the Tooth Fairy until then.

    At the strategic level, Hamas has peaked. From here on in, it is all downhill for the organization. When Rantisi rants that he "would not leave one Jew in Palestine," he is talking about Serbian-style ethnic-cleansing. That would go over really well with the EU, US, and UN.
    Of course, observers note that Hamas believes it can achieve its goal in some distant future, but procrastination is no alternative to a clear battle plan.

    Suicide bombings may be costing Israel 3 percent GDP per year. But lashed as they are to the Israeli economy, the Palestinians will reach famine level before the Tel Aviv stock market collapses.

    If anything, increased attacks within the Green Line strengthen the push for building the security fence along the West Bank. That is something that scares the living daylights out of the Palestinians. Just check the Web site of the PLO's negotiating team.

    Make no mistake: Hamas can still cause a terrific amount of pain and destruction just as Timothy McVeigh did when, in 1995, he bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City.

    Or, more recently, the al-Qaida hijackers of September 11. Three-thousand innocent people died in those attacks. But what tangible political goal did Osama bin Laden achieve? Like the Japanese discovered after Pearl Harbor, all bin Laden did was wake a sleeping dragon. US President George W. Bush quickly toppled the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and then went to town against Saddam Hussein.

    The Pentagon is now setting its sights on Syria. And Iran that shining beacon of the Islamic revolution finds itself sandwiched between American allies, and bewildered by pro-democracy demonstrations in its own capital.

    According to Reuven Paz, an expert on Islamist movements, Hamas has become a kissing cousin of al-Qaida. Forget all about Clausewitz's dictum that "war is politics by other means;" for both groups, the struggle is an end in and of itself. They are looking to create the New Muslim Man, who is not afraid to die primarily, because he is so terrified of modern, liberal life.

    But sooner or later, Hamas will hit a wall. And that wall is eight meters high, made of cement, and unforgiving.

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