Commentary Magazine


Hamas Coup Should Change Truce Equation

The news that Israel’s security services foiled a plot by Hamas that was aimed at toppling the Palestinian Authority and its leader Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank will probably ignored by most of the Jewish state’s critics who are obsessed with damning its campaign in Gaza to suppress rocket fire and terror tunnel building. But rather than dismissing this as a minor story, those who are pushing Israel hard to make concessions to both Hamas and the PA should be paying closer attention to what the terrorists intend to do and the implication of their plans for a truce that would further empower the Islamists.

The details of what Israel’s Shin Bet service discovered during the sweeps of the West Bank in May and June should curl Abbas’ hair. The group that he had embraced as a partner in the PA as a result of the unity pact he signed in April wasn’t planning on going along with Fatah’s leadership as Abbas and Secretary of State John Kerry naively believed. Instead they set up new terror cells in all the major towns and cities of the West Bank whose goal was to ultimately set off a new conflagration with Israel with a series of massive attacks throughout the area including one on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

What did Hamas think it could accomplish by pouring operatives, money, weapons and explosives into the West Bank? The point was to plunge the area into turmoil opening up a second front against Israel to relieve pressure on Hamas in Gaza as well as to make it impossible for Abbas to pretend to govern the West Bank.

This ought to change the conversation about the terms of the truce that the United States has been pushing Israel to accept to formally conclude the recent hostilities in Gaza. If, as reported, the West has pressured Israel to accept a loosening of the blockade on Gaza — the key Hamas demand throughout the fighting — then we can be sure that this summer’s bloodshed will be repeated before long. While it is hoped that easing the isolation of Gaza will ameliorate the suffering of Palestinians and perhaps even help Abbas gain back control of the strip, so long as Hamas is still armed and in power there, these hopes are in vain. Open borders for Gaza means an inevitable resupply of the Hamas arsenal, more building materials for tunnels and the rest of the underground city that enables the Islamist movement to continue fighting while its human hostages above ground continue to die every time they pick another fight with Israel.

But the decision to acquiesce to any of Hamas’s demands will have consequences for more than the future of Gaza. The assumption that Abbas can continue to hang on to the West Bank and maybe even assume some power in Gaza is based on the idea that Hamas is on the ropes and without options. But once the resupply of Hamas in Gaza begins, it will have serious implications for Abbas’s future.

The only reason Abbas has stayed in power in the West Bank is the protection he gets from Israel’s army and security services. But the more chances Hamas gets to topple him the more likely it is that sooner or later, the Islamist will launch the third intifada they are aiming at even if the Shin Bet manages to save Abbas’s hide. Any outcome in Gaza that can be portrayed as victory for Hamas will only hasten the day when that intifada will start with its consequent massive shedding of blood on both sides.

Those who have spoken of Hamas, as having evolved to the point where it is a legitimate political force and not a terror group should have had lost their illusions about the group amid the rocket launches and the discovery of the tunnels. But the revelation about the coup attempt should remove any doubt as to the Islamists’ intentions. The Obama administration, which has been eager to push Israel to do something to allow Hamas a way out of the conflict, should realize that the coup should end its illusions about Palestinian unity and the ability of Abbas to make peace while partnering with the terrorists.

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6 Responses to “Hamas Coup Should Change Truce Equation”


    You have a typo in the penultimate paragraph. You state that Abbas has remained in power in Gaza, but you mean the West Bank.

  2. ELLIOTT GREEN says:

    why can’t Hamas go down into the tunnels and bring up the modular concrete slabs now supporting the tunnels. Why can’t those slabs be recycled for building above ground rather than bringing in new concrete that hamas will only misuse?

  3. ELLEN HEYMAN says:

    The coup should also end the world’s illusions that Israel can give up control of the West Bank. If there had been a two-state “solution” would Israel now be dealing with an Islamist state there?

    Would the Obama administration see this as in America’s interest?


    Tunneling under the enemy was used in the medieval period and in WWI, with great success. Israel must destroy Hamas. I propose that Israel dig a 60 meter or more shaft beneath a home near the Gaza border and opposite Gaza city, tunnel, at that depth to a point directly underneath the Hamas war room and the bunkers that shelter the Hamas leadership, tunnel upwards to a point, say 5 meters below the Hamas war room, excavate a large shelf, fill it with high explosives–and do whatever else is necessary to finish the job. Armchair generals, like this one, can dream about such things. But truly, Israel must destroy Hamas in a way that frightens Hezbollah and turn its attention to Iran.


      In the film/book, ‘to kill a mockingbird’, there is a scene of a rabid dog drooling and staggering down the Main Street of this small town in Mississippi. Atticus finch, the protagonist and father of two elementary school age children arrives in a haste with the small town sheriff. The decision is made, shoot the dog in the head. There is no saving a dog, once rabid. It must be shot in the head.

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