Hamas, as it turns out, has a single definition for victory. Like Hezbollah, Hamas knows that a few hundred rockets will not crush Israel, but rather serve as critically-needed leverage to establish its presence as a prominent and active decision-making force in the inter-Palestinian arena. This goes beyond Hamas’ standing as the only Palestinian force engaged in a liberation struggle with the conqueror. It refers to the organization’s success in reshuffling the Middle Eastern deck of cards.
The deep rift – even conflict – between Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria is Hamas’ handiwork. It is a repeat of Hezbollah’s successful efforts to drive a wedge between Saudi Arabia and Syria. Similarly to its role in Lebanon, Iran has turned into a significant force in the diplomatic battleground around Gaza.
Israel, by contrast, has not yet fully grasped the shift. This war will surely clarify matters for Jerusalem, making it more evident that it is impossible to negotiate with Abbas while killing hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza. Gaza and the West Bank are two regions of one nation, under a split leadership whose two halves are at odds with one another. Hamas wants to consolidate this realization in Israel’s mind through this war, and will continue the war even if it achieves a cease-fire and the crossings are reopened. The smuggling tunnels will be rebuilt.