One of the big questions in Israel following today’s coordinated terror attack near Eilat in which six Israeli civilians and one Israel Defense Force soldier were murdered is this: Since, as Jonathan wrote earlier, Hamas controls the Gaza Strip and has a great deal of influence over whether other terror groups there launch attacks, why would they allow it? After all, the reasoning goes, at such a sensitive time in negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, as well as talks heating up over the possible release of Gilad Shalit, shouldn’t they want to keep things quiet?
You could, obviously, conclude that this attack, apparently carried out by the Palestinian Resistance Committees (PRC), took place over Hamas’ objections. This is apparently the position of the Israeli government, which retaliated by taking out the top three leaders of the PRC in Gaza via air strikes a few hours ago. In a short statement by Prime Minister Netanyahu in the last hour, he seemed to suggest that there wouldn’t be any further response. (“The people who ordered the attack, and those who carried it out, are no longer alive,” he declared.) It was the PNC, not Hamas, that needed to pay a price.
But there’s another possibility, which is that Hamas has a huge reason to escalate violence from Gaza right now. It’s all about Syria. While President Bashar Assad has continued to slaughter his own people — including Palestinians — the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has been blasting the Assad regime. Hamas, on the other hand, has been totally mum, for the simple reason that they are headquartered in Damascus and rely on the Assad regime. So the PA has taken full advantage of an opportunity to cast itself as the true protectors of Palestinians. Hamas, which has always claimed that protecting Palestinians can happen only through terror, has to remind its people that there’s a war on against Israel, and that we shouldn’t let their silence over Assad’s brutality against Palestinians let anyone get confused as to what’s really important: Brutality against Israelis.