Today was supposed to be Ismail Haniyeh’s big day. A huge demonstration of Gazans was slated to protest the Israeli blockade. The “longest human chain in the world,” we were told, was going to link arms from Gaza City to Rafiah. Maybe they would storm the border, like they did with Egypt. Hundreds of thousands, maybe even more. Israelis warned that they would respond in force, and sent reinforcements pouring towards the border. Hamas, we were told, was in a “win-win” situation; either they would succeed in breaking the blockade, or they would get such great coverage of Israeli brutality that no one would care if they failed.
But only 5,000 people showed up.
We have no idea exactly what went wrong. But we are left with two possibilities, and two alone: (1) Gazans don’t really care so much about the blockade, or (2) Israel outmaneuvered Hamas in its diplomatic and military preparations, and Haniyeh understood he had little to gain–in which case, we should never again believe that Gaza protests are spontaneous displays of genuine outrage, but rather programmed rallies dictated from above, as we always thought.
Looks like it’s lose-lose for Hamas.