Tough choices for Hamas over Is­raeli an­nex­a­tion plans

Arab News - - News Middle East - AFP Gaza City

Hamas has warned that Is­raeli an­nex­a­tion in the oc­cu­pied West Bank would be a “dec­la­ra­tion of war,” but the Is­lamist group must weigh the cost of a new fight, an­a­lysts say.

Re­cent weeks have seen al­most daily protests in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip against US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s Mid­dle East peace plan.

The pro­pos­als en­vis­age Is­rael an­nex­ing its West Bank set­tle­ments and the Jor­dan Val­ley,

Pales­tinian ter­ri­tory oc­cu­pied since 1967 and lo­cated around 50 km from the en­clave of Gaza.

The Is­raeli gov­ern­ment is ex­pected to de­cide from July 1 on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Trump plan. As the clock ticks, Hamas, which has fought three wars against the Jewish state since 2007, is seek­ing to de­fine its strat­egy in the face of the lat­est chal­lenge.

“There is no doubt that Hamas’ op­tions are com­plex be­cause any re­sponse to the an­nex­a­tion will have con­se­quences for the Gaza Strip,” said Pales­tinian an­a­lyst Ad­nan Abu Amer.

De­spite a 2018 truce, Hamas and Is­rael still trade fire from time to time, with rock­ets or in­cen­di­ary bal­loons launched from Gaza and reprisal strikes by Is­rael. “Ten­sions at the bor­der fence may re­sume, with the launch of in­cen­di­ary and ex­plo­sive de­vices,” said Mukhaimar Abu Saada, pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal sci­ence at Gaza’s Al-Azhar Univer­sity.

But he ruled out “the op­tion of mil­i­tary ac­tiv­i­ties” against Is­rael by Hamas, which rules over a ter­ri­tory al­ready im­pov­er­ished and un­der a crip­pling Is­raeli block­ade.

The move­ment “does not want Gaza to pay the price, and wants to wait to see what is go­ing on, or­ga­nize pop­u­lar protests and not have to en­gage in con­fronta­tion with Is­rael,” he added.

On Fri­day Is­raeli air force jets struck Hamas po­si­tions in Gaza after rock­ets were fired from the ter­ri­tory to­ward Is­rael for the first time since early May.

The pre­vi­ous day, Hamas’s mil­i­tary wing had warned that an­nex­a­tion would prompt a war. “The re­sis­tance con­sid­ers the de­ci­sion to an­nex the West Bank and the Jor­dan Val­ley to be a dec­la­ra­tion of war on our peo­ple,” said spokesman Abu Ubaida.

And an of­fi­cial told AFP that Hamas was in talks with other fac­tions in the coastal en­clave to “co­or­di­nate the re­sis­tance and re­sume the ‘re­turn marches’.” On Sun­day the deputy head of Hamas’s po­lit­i­cal wing, Khalil Al-Hayya, said that “to­tal re­sis­tance and armed strug­gle (were) nec­es­sary to face the en­emy’s plan,” call­ing for a “Day of Rage” on July 1. In March 2018, the Pales­tini­ans launched weekly protests along Gaza’s bor­der with Is­rael to de­mand “the right of re­turn” for Pales­tini­ans who were chased out or fled from their lands when Is­rael was cre­ated in 1948.

FASTFACT

As the clock ticks, Hamas, which has fought three wars against the Jewish state since 2007, is seek­ing to de­fine its strat­egy in the face of the lat­est chal­lenge.

Reuters

A Pales­tinian boy wear­ing a head­band at­tends a protest against Is­rael’s an­nex­a­tion plan, in Gaza.

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